Hayley Milon Bour
The Loudoun County Circuit Court has set a Sept. 7 start to the case involving the Leesburg Elementary School PE teacher who was removed from his post after saying he does not support the district’s proposed protections for transgender students.
Byron “Tanner” Cross was placed on paid administrative leave days after he told the School Board during a meeting in May that he did not support the district’s proposed protections for transgender students. Policy 8040, which provides protections and accommodations for transgender and gender expansive students, is meant to comply with the Virginia mandate that all school districts implement such safeguards for students before the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
“I love all 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 is against my religion, it’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it is sinning against our God,” Cross said during the May 25 meeting.
After several parents of Cross’ students complained to the district, he was placed on leave May 27.
His legal team, from the Alliance Defending Freedom, sued for his reinstatement to his teaching position. Circuit Court Judge James E. Plowman granted his reinstatement, ruling that Cross’ First Amendment rights had been violated.
The school division filed an appeal, arguing that Plowman’s decision failed to acknowledge the district’s responsibility to protect students superseded Cross’ right to free speech.
“While LCPS respects the rights of public-school employees to free speech and free exercise of religion, those rights do not outweigh the rights of students to be educated in a supportive and nurturing environment,” the district said in a statement.
In a brief filed in response to the district’s appeal, Cross’ attorney Tyson Langhofer asserted that Plowman was correct in his original ruling to reinstate Cross.
“Judge Plowman’s opinion ordering Tanner’s reinstatement was a well-reasoned application of these facts to clear-established law,” Langhofer said.
There is still not a hearing date set for the district’s appeal of the injunction from the state Supreme Court.