Virginia teacher reinstated after speaking out against school’s pronoun policy
A Virginia judge ordered a Loudoun County school to reinstate a teacher who had been suspended after speaking out against a policy proposal requiring educators to address students by their preferred pronouns.
In a ruling on Tuesday, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James Plowman said teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross was exercising his freedom of speech and ordered the school to “reinstate immediately the complainant at his post as it was before his suspension was issued. “
Plowman’s decision remains until a full trial can take place.
Cross’s attorney, Tyson Langhofer, celebrated the news and said the suspension from the school was “neither legal nor constitutional”.
“Educators are like everyone else – they have ideas and opinions they should be free to express,” he said in a statement. “Proving solutions they believe in shouldn’t cost them their jobs. School officials called his speech, delivered privately at a public meeting, ‘disruptive’ and then suspended him for expressing his opinion.”
Cross, a physical education specialist at Leesburg Elementary School, was put on paid administrative leave on May 27, two days after he said at a school board meeting that following the proposed policy would go against of his religious beliefs.
“I love all of my students but I will never lie to them no matter what the consequences,” Cross said, according to a recording of the meeting. “I am a teacher but I serve God first and I will not assert that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it is against my religion, it is lying to my child, it is abusing ‘a child and it is to sin against our God. “
During the meeting, Cross referred to a “60 minute” episode that was about, in part, young people who once identified as trans but changed their minds and lost their transition. He told the school board that he “speaks out of love for those who suffer from gender dysphoria.”
Two days after the meeting, Cross received a letter from the school saying he had been put on leave for allegedly engaging in “conduct which had a disruptive impact on the operations of Leesburg Elementary School.”
Langhofer lambasted the school for the suspension, saying his client’s free speech rights had been violated. He also filed a lawsuit against the school board and the superintendents. The lawyer said on Wednesday that the trial was ongoing.
The school district did not respond to a request for comment on the judge’s reinstatement on Wednesday.