On Tuesday, the physical education teacher who got suspended for voicing his opposition to a transgender pronoun policy filed a lawsuit demanding that the school district restore his job and reputation. The teacher, Byron [Tanner] Cross, spoke up during a public comment period at a Loudoun County School Board meeting last Tuesday. On Thursday, the school district suspended him without giving a full explanation as to why. On Friday, he sent a demand letter asking to be reinstated. The district refused.
“This case is not about how schools should treat students who struggle with gender dysphoria. It is about whether public schools can punish a teacher for objecting, as a private citizen, to a proposed policy, in a forum designated for the purpose of considering whether to implement such policies, where the policy would force him to express ideas about human nature, unrelated to the school’s curriculum, that he believes are false,” the lawsuit explains.
“This is not the type of philosophical disagreement in which the government may compel individuals to take sides,” the complaint states. Yet the school district did just that.
The lawsuit alleges that the school district violated Cross’s free speech rights under the Virginia Constitution by retaliating against him for his remarks (count one) and by discriminating against him for his viewpoint (count two). The lawsuit also alleges that the school district violated his right to the free exercise of religion under Virginia’s Constitution by punishing Cross for exercising his religious beliefs (count three) without any compelling government interest, as required by the commonwealth’s Act for Religious Freedom (count four).
The lawsuit seeks a court judgment declaring that the school district’s retaliation against Cross for expressing his views violates Virginia law, restraining orders forcing the district to reinstate him and purge the suspension from his record, along with nominal and compensatory damages.
“Public schools have no business compelling teachers to express ideological beliefs that they don’t hold, nor do they have the right to suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting,” Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing Cross, said in a statement.
“The school district favors a certain set of beliefs on a hotly contested issue, and it wants to force Tanner to cry uncle and endorse them as well. That’s neither legal nor constitutional, and neither was the school’s move to place Tanner on leave,” Langhofer added.
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) suspended Cross less than 48 hours after he dared to speak out against LCPS Policy 8040 and the proposed changes to LCPS Policy 8350, which would require teachers to refer to students by preferred gender pronouns, rather than the pronouns that correspond to a student’s biological sex as male or female.
“My name is Tanner Cross, and I am speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria,” Cross, the PE teacher at Leesburg Elementary, said during the public comment segment of the school board meeting. “Sixty Minutes this past Sunday interviewed over 30 young people who transitioned but they felt led astray because lack of pushback or how easy it was to make physical changes to their bodies in just three months. They are now detransitioning.”
Cross referenced the 60 Minutes segment on detransitioners in order to highlight the danger of transgender ideology. In pursuit of false gender identities, men and women have permanently mutilated their bodies, only to later reject the transgender identity.
“It’s not my intention to hurt anyone, but there are certain truths that we must face when ready,” Cross insisted. “We condemn school policies like 8040 and 8350 because it would damage children, defile the holy image of God. I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them, regardless of the consequences.”
“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,” Cross concluded.
Loudoun County School Board just put a school teacher on administrative leave for stating he would not teach LGBTQ because it violates his Christian principles. pic.twitter.com/QCwzIYdNNw
— Michael S. Miller (@imichaelsmiller) May 27, 2021
LCPS leaders may not agree with Cross’s remarks, but it is beyond the pale for the school district to suspend him for speaking out on this issue.