Court Rules in Virginia Teacher’s Favor, Okay to Express Religious Opposition to Transgender Policy

By Elisabeth Nieshalla | June 9, 2021 | 12:22pm EDT
Physical education teacher Tanner Cross.  (Screenshot)
Physical education teacher Tanner Cross. (Screenshot)

(CNS News) -- On Tuesday, the Circuit Court for the County of Loudoun, Va., ruled to reinstate Byron Tanner Cross to his teaching position after the Loudoun County Public Schools suspended him for voicing his concerns at a school board meeting that a transgender policy under consideration violated his beliefs and was harmful to children. 

Tanner is a physical education teacher at the Leesburg Elementary School in Loudoun County. He has been a teacher for 15 years.

“The Court finds that the Plaintiff’s speech and religious content are central to the determination made by the Defendants to suspend Plaintiff’s employment,” reads the decision, and Cross was granted a temporary injunction. 

While the case is still being litigated, Judge James E. Plowman Jr. directed the Loudoun County Public Schools to reinstate Tanner to his position and stop banning him from school property.

“I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it is against my religion,” Cross stated on May 25 during the public comments portion of the meeting. “It’s lying to a child. It’s abuse to a child. And it’s sinning against our God.” 

Two days later, he was placed on administrative leave, with LCPS claiming he caused “significant disruption” at the school “including multiple complaints and parents requesting that Mr. Cross have no interaction with their children because of his comments,” according to a LCPS representative.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“This case is not about how schools should treat students who struggle with gender dysphoria,” the Alliance Defending Freedom, representing Cross, stated in the official complaint. “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 hearing took place on June 4, where ADF attorney Logan Spena and Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer represented Cross. Afterwards, at a rally for Cross, Langhofer told CNS News that he believed the judge conducted a fair hearing, and he was hopeful for a ruling in their favor. 

The ADF stated in a press release announcing Cross’ victory, “With this ruling, the court sent a clear message to the school board: ‘You are not above the law.’”

The court ruling said, “Upholding constitutional rights serves the public interest. Affirming the unconstitutional action taken against [Tanner] which has silenced others from speaking publicly on this issue, serves the public interest. The public’s knowledge that [Tanner’s] speech was permissible, is encouraged, and is free from governmental oppression serves the public interest. Governmental bodies being held in check for violating a citizen’s constitutional rights, serves the public interest.”

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