Update: Cross has sued the Loudoun County school district. Read that story here.
Last week, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary in Leesburg, Va., dared to speak out against a policy that would require teachers to endorse transgender identity by using female pronouns to refer to male students and vice versa. Less than two days later, the school suspended him pending an investigation and forbade him from setting foot on school property without special permission. A Christian law firm has taken up his case and the situation has sparked a new feud between a local pastor and the local Democratic Party.
“My name is Tanner Cross, and I am speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria,” Byron [Tanner] Cross, the PE teacher at Leesburg Elementary, said during the public comment segment of a Loudoun County school board meeting on Tuesday. “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 condemned 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. He 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
On Thursday, an LCPS representative delivered a warning to Cross by hand, notifying him that he would be “on administrative leave with pay effective May 27, 2021, pending an investigation of allegations that you engaged in conduct that has had a disruptive impact on the operations of Leesburg Elementary School.”
“During the course of this administrative leave, you are restricted from the buildings and grounds of all Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) property and you may not attend any school-sponsored activities or extracurricular events on or off LCPS property,” the notification continued. If Cross desired to set foot on any property or attend any school events, he would have to send a written request to the principal.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian law firm that has achieved 12 victories before the Supreme Court in the last 10 years, sent LCPS a demand letter on Friday, condemning the “unconstitutional retaliation” against Cross.
“Public schools have no business compelling teachers to express ideological beliefs that they don’t hold, but it’s beyond the pale to suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting, which is what such meetings are designed for,” ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, said in a statement.
“This isn’t just about a pronoun; this is about endorsing an ideology. The school favors certain beliefs, 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 argued.
The ADF letter notes that LCPS has employed Cross for eight years, the last three as a PE teacher at Leesburg Elementary. The letter notes that when LCPS suspended cross for “disruption,” he inquired about the allegations and the school district “refused to provide any details.”
Citing the Supreme Court case Pickering v. Board of Education (1968), ADF notes that a “teacher’s exercise of his right to speak on issues of public importance may not furnish the basis for his dismissal from public employment.”
“Mr. Cross’s expression during public comment time at an open school board meeting was undoubtedly expression in his private capacity on a matter of public concern,” the letter argues. “Immediately suspending an employee and launching an investigation for engaging in First Amendment-protected expression, creates an atmosphere of fear and is intended to send a message to Mr. Cross and other teachers that they must toe the line or face the consequences.”
“The First Amendment does not countenance such retaliation,” the letter declares.
The letter demands that LCPS rescind the suspension, reinstate Cross, remove the suspension letter from his file, and refrain from any future retaliation.
On Sunday, Cornerstone Chapel Pastor Gary Hamrick announced that his church would allow canvassers to collect signatures for the recall of Loudoun County school board members because of this retaliation against Cross’s free speech.
Hamrick shared the video of Cross’s remarks and his congregation loudly applauded. “Beautifully said, but for saying that, he was placed on administrative leave,” Hamrick said. “We’ve got to take back our schools.”
“This school board, some of them, are not doing their duty to protect our children, let alone educate our children. They are exposing them to sexually-explicit materials… and they are introducing racially divisive curriculum, and they are emotionally abusing our children by perpetuating lies about gender confusion when they affirm pronouns that are contrary to biology, reality, and the beautiful way that God has designed them,” Hamrick concluded.
Loudoun County Democrats condemned Hamrick for “invoking the name of God to incite political action.” The party claimed that the charge of “emotional child abuse” is “libelous and inflammatory.”
“Unfounded statements such as these not only hurt our community that he is meant to serve but have dangerous ramifications for the incitement of violence,” the Loudoun Democrats concluded.
The Loudoun County Democrats call on Leesburg Pastor Gary Hamrick to recant his inflammatory remarks accusing School Board Members of “emotional child abuse”. Read the full press release below. pic.twitter.com/xXLnS2sZhS
— Loudoun Democrats (@LoudounDems) May 30, 2021
Not only did the school district suspend a Christian teacher for standing against transgender ideology, but the local Democratic Party has condemned a pastor, suggesting that his remarks involve “the incitement of violence.”
This episode illustrates the horrible stranglehold of transgender orthodoxy in Loudoun County, a Virginia county just outside of Washington, D.C. This woke orthodoxy is spreading like wildfire across the country, and Americans need to stand up against it.