VA School Board Appeals Ruling to Reinstate Gym Coach Who Refused to Use Trans Pronouns

Leesburg Elementary School physical education teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross addresses the Loudoun County School Board during the public comment portion of the May 25 meeting. LCPS/Vimeo
LCPS/Vimeo

The Loudoun County school board in Virginia is taking its case against a school gym teacher to the state Supreme Court after being ordered to reinstate him following a suspension over his criticism of the district’s new transgender policies.

Elementary school gym teacher Byron Cross was suspended in May after he appeared at a school board meeting and publicly criticized the district’s new policy to address trans students by their preferred pronouns.

Cross citied his Christian faith when explaining his decision not to obey the school’s announced Policy 8040 changes which contain the district’s new transgender policy.

“It’s against my religion,” Cross said during his speech at the board meeting. “It’s lying to a child. It’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”

It’s not my intention to hurt anyone, but there are certain truths that we must face when ready. I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences. 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.

But in the wake of his appearance at the public meeting, the district put him on leave claiming that students don’t “feel safe” around him.

Cross promptly took his case to the Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Virginia where he was awarded a ruling in his favor. On June 8, the court ruled that he had a right to express his feelings at the meeting and the district had no right to try and fire him over his comments.

Still, three days later, the district noted that it planned to appeal:

Leesburg Elementary School and Loudoun County Public Schools experienced — and continue to experience — significant disruption since the May 25 School Board meeting during which Cross addressed the board. Many students and parents at Leesburg Elementary have expressed fear, hurt and disappointment about coming to school. Addressing those concerns is paramount to the school division’s goal to provide a safe, welcoming and affirming learning environment for all students.

Now, the school district is taking its case to reinstate the coach’s suspension to the state’s highest court.

Tyson Langhofer, an attorney and director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, said that the district has no right at all to suspend Cross and that it has no case to overturn the lower court ruling, Fox News reported.

“Public schools have no right to suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting,” Langhofer said. “The lower court’s decision ordering Tanner’s reinstatement was a well-reasoned application of these facts to clearly established law, so there is no reason for the Virginia Supreme Court to take this appeal. The school district wants to force Tanner to endorse its ideals and shut down any opposing views. That violates the Constitution and laws of Virginia, and so did the school’s move to place Tanner on leave.”

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