A gym teacher in Loudoun County, Virginia, was placed on administrative leave after he refused to comply with the school’s policy that teachers should refer to their students by pronouns that align with their gender identity. During a May 25 school board meeting, Byron “Tanner” Cross, a physical education expert at Leesburg Elementary School, spoke against the proposed policy citing his Christian faith. “I love all of my students but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences,” he noted, per a recording of the meeting. “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 my child, it’s abuse to a child and it’s sinning against our God.”
Cross made references to a “60 Minutes” episode that discussed, in part, about youngsters who identified as trans at one point but eventually changed their mind and detransitioned. One of them reportedly said, they didn’t “get enough pushback” and were allowed to start gender-affirming hormones just after two appointments. Thus, he told the board members that he was simply “speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria,” reports NBC News.
Two days after this meeting, Cross was informed that he was being placed on administrative leave with pay while the district investigated the allegations of “conduct that has had a disruptive impact on the operations of Leesburg Elementary School.” Following this, Cross decided to fight back by filing a lawsuit against the school district for retaliating against him for the comments he made during a public meeting. He claimed that the school had violated his rights of freedom of speech and religion by suspending him, reports NPR.
“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, which is what such meetings are designed for,” noted Cross’ attorney Tyson Langhofer 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.” Attorney Langhofer has demanded that Cross is reinstated as a teacher immediately.
Meanwhile, the school system’s attorney, Stacy Haney, has accused Cross of disrupting the school environment by his comments. Haney noted that their decision to suspend Cross was not based on his belief but due to the disruption he caused, reports Daily Wire. That being said, Cross is not the only one in Loudoun County who has raised objections concerning the district’s diversity and equity initiatives during school board meetings. Per reports, parents have claimed that the district is “indoctrinating” their kids on LGBTQ+ and racial issues and that the books of high schoolers were too pornographic for the classroom. Displeased by what they consider a dismissive response from the district, parents and conservative activists are desperately collecting signatures to recall six out of nine school board members who have become too liberal for their liking.