A circuit court judge ruled Tuesday in favor of a northern Virginia physical education teacher who was placed on leave after he said he would not affirm transgender identities for students.
Judge James Plowman issued a temporary injunction to Bryon “Tanner” Cross, who had filed a lawsuit against Loudoun County Public Schools, according to the law firm representing him, Alliance Defending Freedom.
BREAKING: Tanner Cross, a Virginia elementary school teacher and ADF client who was suspended for raising concerns to the board about a proposed gender policy, has won a temporary injunction and the judge has ordered his reinstatement.
A massive victory for freedom of speech.
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@AllianceDefends) June 8, 2021
ADF described the judge’s ruling as “a massive victory for freedom of speech.”
As Faithwire previously reported, Cross was suspended for saying during an LCPS board meeting that he wouldn’t “lie” by affirming to students “that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.”
“I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them, regardless of the consequences,” he said in late May. “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 a child. It’s abuse to a child. And it’s sinning against our God.”
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The policy Cross was opposing states school staff “shall, at the request of a student or parent/legal guardian, when using a name or pronoun to address the student, use the name and pronoun that correspond to their gender identity.”
“Inadvertent slips in the use of names or pronouns may occur,” the policy reads. “However, staff or students who intentionally and persistently refuse to respect a student’s gender identity by using the wrong name and gender pronoun are in violation of this policy.”
According to WTOP-TV reporter Neal Augenstein, Plowman found the school system’s decision to suspend Cross for opposing the policy “unconstitutional” and rebuked the district for its “vindictive” handling of the situation.
LCPS officials argued Cross’s words caused a “disruption.” The judge, though, said there is “simply an absence of evidence” to suggest that is the case.
“[Cross’] interest in expressing his First Amendment speech outweighs the [school’s] interest in restricting the same,” said Plowman, noting the teacher “did not serve to meaningfully disrupt the operation or services of Leesburg Elementary School.”
He further condemned LCPS for its “extreme” response.