A teacher in Virginia has filed a lawsuit against his school district after its leadership put him on leave for rejecting policies that would implement transgender ideology in local schools.
Byron Tanner Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, filed suit last week against the Loudon County School Board for disciplining him for expressing concern over a proposed policy.
Filed in Loudon County Circuit Court, the suit accused the board, Interim Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler and another official of “viewpoint-based retaliation.”
“… this case is not about how schools should treat students who struggle with gender dysphoria,” stated the legal filing.
“It is about whether public schools can punish a teacher for objecting, as a private citizen, to a proposed policy, in a forum designated for the purpose of considering whether to implement such policies, where the policy would force him to express ideas about human nature, unrelated to the school’s curriculum, that he believes are false.”
Cross is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal nonprofit based in Scottsdale, Arizona, that has successfully argued several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said in a statement that he believes public schools cannot “suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting.”
“The school district favors a certain set of beliefs on a hotly contested issue, and it wants to force Tanner to cry uncle and endorse them as well,” stated Langhofer. “That’s neither legal nor constitutional, and neither was the school’s move to place Tanner on leave.”
Last month, Cross told the Loudoun County School Board at a meeting that he could not “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.”
“My name is Tanner Cross, and I am speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria,” said Cross at the May 25 meeting.
“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.”
Two days after the meeting, the school informed Cross that he was placed on administrative leave with pay "pending an investigation of allegations that [he] engaged in conduct that had a disruptive impact on the operations of Leesburg Elementary School.”
The proposed policy, known as Policy 8040, would require both staff and students of Loudon schools to use the chosen pronouns of students who identify as transgender or “gender-expansive.”
“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,” a draft of the policy explains.
“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.”
His attorneys filed a motion for temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would halt the school district's actions against Cross while the lawsuit is adjudicated.
Cross is not the only Virginia public school teacher recently caught in the controversy over transgender ideology and gender identity in the classroom.
In 2019, a high school French teacher named Peter Vlaming sued the West Point School Board over his firing for using a trans-identified student's chosen name instead of their preferred pronouns.
West Point Superintendent Laura Abel said in a statement released in December 2018 that they considered Vlaming’s actions discriminatory, noting that the student “felt disrespected.”
“That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that,” Abel stated at the time.