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Virginia Judge Sides With Teacher Suspended After Opposing Loudoun Transgender Policy, Can’t Be Punished for Beliefs
A woman sits with her sign during a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia on October 12, 2021. - Loudoun county school board meetings have become tense recently with parents clashing with board members over transgender issues, the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) and Covid-19 mandates. Recently tensions between groups of parents and the school board increased after parents say an allegedly transgender individual assaulted a girl at one of the schools. Earlier this month US Attorney General Merrick Garland directed federal authorities to hold strategy sessions in the next month with law enforcement to address the increasing threats targeting school board members, teachers and other employees in the nation's public schools. This in response to a request from the National School Boards Association asking US President Joe Biden for federal assistance to investigate and stop threats made over policies including mask mandates, likening the vitriol to a form of domestic terrorism.

A Virginia judge granted a permanent injunction protecting the speech rights of a Loudoun County teacher who was placed on leave last May following remarks at a school board meeting about a proposed transgender policy. 

The ruling blocks the Loudoun County School Board from punishing Tanner Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, for his views about Policy 8040, which is the district’s transgender policy.  

“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,” said Tyson Langhofer, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom who has been representing Cross.

“While we are very pleased that Tanner will be able to keep serving his students in light of this settlement, the concerns expressed in our ongoing lawsuit challenging the district’s policy remain,” he added. 

Cross spoke up at a school board meeting in May, saying that he did not support Policy 8040, which was being considered at the time. Soon after the meeting, he was placed on administrative leave. 

After Cross sought help from ADF, however, a judge put a hold on the suspension, allowing him to return to school at least until December.

According to ADF, the district will also have to pay $20,000 of Cross’s legal fees and expunge the record of his suspension from his teacher files. 

Still ongoing is a lawsuit brought by Cross and two other teachers in the county against Policy 8040, which the county has now implemented. One of the policy’s stipulations is that teachers must use the preferred pronouns of their students, something Cross has said he objects to as a Christian. 

“When I spoke I was thinking about my values, my students, my parents, and my fellow teachers,” Cross said at a rally after his suspension. “The truth is I am not alone. Many of us are concerned that proposed policies would harm students and require us to violate our beliefs by saying things that are not true.”

His suit against the policy, Cross vs. Loudoun County School Board, explained the teachers’ objections. 

It says that “they would be forced to communicate a message they believe is false—that gender identity, rather than biological reality, fundamentally shapes and defines who we truly are as humans, that our sex can change, and that a woman who identifies as a man really is a man, and vice versa.”

The suit continues, “But if they refer to students based on their biological sex, they communicate the views they actually believe—that our sex shapes who we are as humans, that this sex is fixed in each person, and that it cannot be changed, regardless of our feelings or desires.”

Loudoun County’s transgender policy was one of the many issues that put the county on the national scene. Many parents started showing up at school board meetings to express their displeasure with how their children’s schools were being run.

In Virginia’s governor race earlier this month, education would prove to be one of the dominating issues that drove turnout with Republican Glenn Youngkin making the focus of his campaign on giving parents more direction in the classroom.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Virginia Judge Sides With Teacher Suspended After Opposing Loudoun Transgender Policy, Can’t Be Punished for Beliefs