Fellow teachers and parents rallied around Loudoun County school district physical education instructor Tanner Cross after the school board suspended him for saying his Christian faith kept him from misleading children about choosing their “gender identity.”
“Where is your regard for our freedom of speech?” Rachel Pisani, a mother of three, said at Tuesday’s meeting. “When I saw a teacher express an opinion and suspended for expressing his religious beliefs, I could no longer stay silent.
“When did it become acceptable to be tolerant only when someone expresses a view that we agree with?” Pisani said. “When did it become appropriate to silence those that hold Christian, biblical views just because you don’t? When did it become appropriate to allow the school board – I don’t know who you think you are – but it is not appropriate, it is not allowable to silence, bully, or dismiss our views.”
Fox News reported on the drama, including a teacher who compared the board to the violent anarchist group Antifa:
At one point Tuesday, teacher Jeremy Wright, who previously called the school board fascists, left what he said was a copy of the First Amendment on the podium. “For the members of Chardonnay Antifa, here is your assignment with a copy of the First Amendment attached,” said Wright before holding up a packet of paper. “I’m going to leave this here and I hope you learn something.”
Another female told the board: “Even being threatened with termination for simply speaking one’s opinion creates a culture of fear and silence – and this does not help anyone on either side of the aisle.”
Teacher Monica Gill told the board its suspension of Cross and other actions “resemble totalitarianism, not the Constitution.” She added that “first and foremost, I am a Christian. What is most important? We live in truth, not lies. We look at character, not skin color. We love our lord and we love others. Know this – We will not yield. We will not let you have our souls or the souls of our children.”
On Tuesday, a judge issued a temporary injunction against Loudoun County Public Schools for violating Cross’s 1st Amendment rights and ordered for the teacher to be reinstated.
In his remarks to the board, Cross referred to the draft policy 8040, which required Loudoun staff to use children who claim to be transgender preferred pronouns.
“LCPS staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student’s permanent educational record,” the draft reads.
“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. The use of gender-neutral pronouns are appropriate. Inadvertent slips in the use of names or pronouns may occur; 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.”
Another proposed policy, 8350, stated that LCPS staff “shall allow gender-expansive and transgender students to participate in such activities in a manner consistent with the student’s gender identity.”
Some speakers also spoke out against including Critical Race Theory in school curriculum.
“The district has denied teaching CRT, but recent information has raised questions about the role it plays in the district’s decision-making,” Fox News reported. “LCPS held an equity workshop last week as part of its response to the ongoing controversy engulfing the county. During that talk, Barts seemed to acknowledge that CRT influenced LCPS policy.”
Fox News reported that documents obtained by the Fight for Schools Political Action Committee indicated staff was taught the ideology. That included an invoice from The Equity Collaborative, which received nearly $500,000 from the county and contained a line item for “Coaching support for LCPS leaders – follow up meetings focused on Critical Race Theory Development May 2020.”
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