News & Politics

Loudoun County Schools May Not Retaliate Against Teacher Who Defied Pronoun Policy

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

The Loudoun County School Board has agreed to a permanent injunction prohibiting it from retaliating against Leesburg Elementary School teacher Tanner Cross, who had previously been suspended for violating the pro-transgender policy known as 8040, and then reinstated.

Cross and other teachers are still challenging the policy in court. But the school board will no longer be able to threaten Cross with suspension or dismissal.

Related: Loudoun County Students Walk Out of Class in Protest

Tanner said at a news conference, “Just today, the court issued a final order permanently prohibiting the Loudoun County Public School Board from punishing me for freely expressing my views,” Cross said. “I can now confidently continue teaching at Leesburg Elementary School without fear of punishment for expressing my views.”

Policy 8040 required school staff to refer to students using their preferred pronouns. It also opened up activities and facilities to students corresponding to their gender identity.

According to Fox News, the school board “agreed to remove any reference to Cross’s suspension in his record, to abide by an injunction preventing them from retaliating against Cross for his speech against 8040 and to pay $20,000 in legal fees.” About the only thing Cross didn’t get was an admission of guilt by the board.

“I’m a teacher, but I serve God first, and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion, it’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God,” he said.

“Teachers shouldn’t be forced to promote ideologies that are harmful to their students and that they believe are false, and they certainly shouldn’t be silenced from commenting at public meetings,” Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, the law firm representing Cross, said in a statement on the settlement.

The court had previously ordered Cross’s suspension lifted, and that new claims would include Loudoun County High School history teacher Monica Gill and Smart’s Mill Middle School English teacher Kim Wright, who had also been suspended.

“Freedom of speech and religion includes the freedom not to speak messages contrary to our core beliefs, and public schools shouldn’t require teachers to personally endorse a belief with which they disagree, but that’s exactly what policy 8040 does,” Gill told Fox News on Monday. “It forces teachers to say things that are untrue and harmful to students.”

“Words carry meaning,” Gill had said at the news conference. “If teachers are forced to use a pronoun for a student that is not in alignment with their biological sex, they are conveying to that student the gender is fluid, and that is not true. That goes against biology, science, and reality.”

It’s refreshing to hear that the concept of freedom of expression is still alive in some academic circles. The education establishment has surrendered to faddism—the acceptance of a passing variety of beliefs that aren’t necessarily based on science or anything real but make the believer a slave to fashion. The “fashion” now is that human beings are perfectly capable of determining their own gender, free of silly constraints such as biology or anatomy.

The concept of free expression is unpopular in some important circles that Mr. Cross and the other plaintiffs move in. But no one should ever be punished for it.