A Loudoun County, Virginia, teacher who was suspended for publicly opposing a proposed transgender policy has won a decisive victory in his legal battle against the school district.
As part of the deal, references to Cross being suspended will be removed from his personnel file and the school district will pay Cross $20,000 to cover attorneys’ fees.
The school board had proposed a policy that would require students to be addressed by whichever pronouns they like and not according to their sex.
Cross said at a board meeting that he would not use transgender students’ preferred pronouns because of his religious convictions.
“I love all of my students but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences,” he said. “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.”
Cross was suspended for his comments and sued the school district.
“This case is not about how schools should treat students who struggle with gender dysphoria,” the lawsuit said, according to WUSA-TV.
“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.”
A circuit court ruled in Cross’ favor. After losing, the school district appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court.
In September, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling that the scant number of complaints received because of Cross’ comments did not warrant a suspension.
“…Teachers are just like everyone else – we have ideas and views we should be free to express – and the court has vindicated those rights for me and for all teachers…” -Tanner Cross, ADF Client pic.twitter.com/bdLWtJy6Xe
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@AllianceDefends) November 15, 2021
ADF noted that it amended its original complaint to include Loudoun County teachers Monica Gill and Kim Wright, who have also stated their opposition to the transgender policy.
“Teachers shouldn’t be forced to promote ideologies that are harmful to their students and that they believe are false, and they certainly shouldn’t be silenced from commenting at public meetings,” said Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom.
“While we are very pleased that Tanner will be able to keep serving his students in light of this settlement, the concerns expressed in our ongoing lawsuit challenging the district’s policy remain.
“Public employees cannot be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep a job. Freedom — of speech and religious exercise — includes the freedom not to speak messages against our core beliefs. That’s why our lawsuit asks the court to protect the constitutional rights of our clients by immediately halting enforcement of this harmful school district policy,” Langhofer said.
The amended complaint said the teachers “would be forced to communicate a message they believe is false — that gender identity, rather than biological reality, fundamentally shapes and defines who we truly are as humans, that our sex can change, and that a woman who identifies as a man really is a man, and vice versa.
“But if they refer to students based on their biological sex, they communicate the views they actually believe — that our sex shapes who we are as humans, that this sex is fixed in each person, and that it cannot be changed, regardless of our feelings or desires,” the complaint said.
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