Judge Orders Teacher Be Reinstated Following Suspension for Opposition to School's Transgender Policy

Posted: Jun 08, 2021 8:15 PM
Judge Orders Teacher Be Reinstated Following Suspension for Opposition to School's Transgender Policy

Source: AP Photo/Robin Rayne

A Virginia physical education teacher has been reinstated, following a judge's ruling, after being placed on administrative leave for voicing his objections to the school's transgender policy at a school board meeting. 

The judge's ruling of the lawsuit was announced Tuesday by Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal advocacy organization representing Tanner Cross.

Cross expressed concern at a school board meeting in late May surrounding a proposed policy that would mandate faculty acknowledge students by their preferred pronouns. He was suspended with pay following his comments.

Cross originally told the school board:

It’s not my intention to hurt anyone, but there are certain truths that we must face when ready. We condemn school policies [that] would damage children, defile the holy image of God. I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences. I am 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 its sinning against our God.

The judge said, according to ADF, that “upholding constitutional rights serves the public interest."

Affirming the unconstitutional action taken against [Tanner] which has silenced others from speaking publicly on this issue, serves the public interest. The public’s knowledge that [Tanner’s] speech was permissible, is encouraged and is free from governmental oppression serves the public interest. Governmental bodies being held in check for violating a citizen’s constitutional rights, serves the public interest.

ADF attorney Tyson Langhofer said at a protest last week in support of Cross after the organization defended him in court that the attack on the Leesburg Elementary School teacher's rights threatens the liberties of all Americans.

To preserve a free society for ourselves and our children, we must stand up for Tanner and all citizens who have the courage to express their views.

Cross said at the rally that he "expected more from a public school here in the United States, where our right to speak freely is protected under the First Amendment."

ADF President and CEO Michael Farris said in a statement following the judge's ruling:

Nobody should be punished for expressing concern about a proposed government policy, especially when the government invites comment on that policy. For that reason, we are pleased at the court’s decision to halt Loudoun County Public Schools’ retaliation against Tanner Cross while his lawsuit continues. Educators are just like everybody else—they have ideas and opinions that they should be free to express. Advocating for solutions they believe in should not cost them their jobs. School officials singled out his speech, offered in his private capacity at a public meeting, as ‘disruptive’ and then suspended him for speaking his mind. That’s neither legal nor constitutional. Dozens of other teachers have shared their beliefs on various policies without retaliation; Tanner deserves to be treated with the same respect.