Virginia school board reinstates P.E. teacher who wouldn’t use preferred pronouns

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Virginia school board reinstates P.E. teacher who wouldn't use preferred pronouns

A Virginia school district has agreed to permanently reinstate a physical-education teacher who had been suspended for refusing to refer to transgender students by their preferred pronouns.

“Just today, the court issued a final order permanently prohibiting the Loudoun County Public School Board from punishing me for freely expressing my views,” Byron “Tanner” Cross told reporters after the settlement Monday, Fox News reported.

“I can now confidently continue teaching at Leesburg Elementary School without fear of punishment for expressing my views,” he added.

In June, the district said it would appeal a judge’s decision to reinstate Cross and take the fight to the state’s Supreme Court after federal Judge James Plowman ruled that the Leesburg Elementary School gym teacher could go back to work.

Cross, an outspoken Christian, had sparked outrage at a school meeting on May 25, when he spoke out against proposed Policy 8040 and wouldn’t affirm that a “biological boy can be a girl and vice versa” and was later suspended from the job.

Parents and community members attend a Loudoun County School Board meeting which included a discussion about transgendered students and COVID-19 mandates.
Parents and community members attend a Loudoun County School Board meeting which included a discussion about transgendered students and COVID-19 mandates.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo
People are checked by security guards before entering the school board building as members of the public gather to protest different issues.
People are checked by security guards before entering the school board building as members of the public gather to protest different issues.
REUTERS/Leah Millis

The policy would require teachers to use a child’s preferred gender pronouns, to open activities to students according to their gender identity, to allow the kids access to facilities corresponding to gender identity and to be trained on matters related to LGBTQ+ students.

“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,” he said at the time. “It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”

Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative legal group representing Cross, said in a statement Monday: “We are very pleased that Tanner will be able to keep serving his students in light of this settlement,” according to Fox News.

Elicia Brand with Army of Parents moves to speak as people gather to protest different issues including the board’s handling of a sexual assault that happened in a school bathroom in May.
Elicia Brand with Army of Parents moves to speak as people gather to protest different issues including the board’s handling of a sexual assault that happened in a school bathroom in May.
REUTERS/Leah Millis
Elicia Brand leads a crowd of angry parents and community members in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.
Elicia Brand leads a crowd of angry parents and community members in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Meanwhile, Cross and other teachers plan to continue their challenge to Policy 8040 in court, where Cross had previously been granted temporary injunctions forcing the district to reinstate him.

The Alliance Defending Freedom was previously allowed to amend its complaint to add new claims against the policy and to include history teacher Monica Gill and English teacher Kim Wright alongside Cross.  

“Freedom of speech and religion includes the freedom not to speak messages contrary to our core beliefs, and public schools shouldn’t require teachers to personally endorse a belief with which they disagree, but that’s exactly what policy 8040 does,” Gill told Fox News on Monday. “It forces teachers to say things that are untrue and harmful to students.”

Byron Tanner Cross has said that while he is a teacher, he would be putting his belief in god and religion first.
Byron Tanner Cross has said that while he is a teacher, he would be putting his belief in god and religion first.
LCPS

At the news conference after the settlement, she said: “Words carry meaning. If teachers are forced to use a pronoun for a student that is not in alignment with their biological sex, they are conveying to that student that gender is fluid, and that is not true. That goes against biology, science, and reality.”

A school district spokesman told Fox News that it does not comment on pending litigation. School board members did not respond to the outlet’s request for comment.

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