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Commentary

Teacher on Leave After Condemning Gender Affirming Policy in School, Refusing to Lie to Students

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Tanner Cross, a physical education teacher at an elementary school in Virginia, doesn’t believe “a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.”

I know the fact people hold this opinion might shock some people. Those people often work in media and split their time between metro areas of New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. When Donald Trump won the presidency back in 2016, they tried to understand what had happened by buying a copy of “Hillbilly Elegy,” but gave up after 50 pages.

For the rest of us, we either a) think this is common sense that’s supported by science or b) know a whole lot of people who think this is common sense supported by science. Tanner Cross doesn’t live in one of those places, alas, which is why his job could now be in jeopardy.

According to Fox News, Cross was placed on leave from Leesburg Elementary School in Leesburg, Virginia, after remarks he made at a meeting of the Loudoun County school board on Tuesday in which he referenced a recent “60 Minutes” report which featured gender dysphoric individuals who regretted gender transitioning surgery.

The speech came as Loudoun County Public Schools are considering a draft policy that would compel staff and students to refer to individuals by preferred pronouns.

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“My name is Tanner Cross and I am speaking out of love for those who are suffering from gender dysphoria,” Cross said during his speech.

“’60 Minutes’ this past Sunday interviewed over 30 young people who transitioned but they felt led astray because of lack of pushback or how easy it was to make physical changes to their bodies,” he continued. “They are now detransitioning.”

“It’s not my intention to hurt anyone, but there are certain truths that we must face when ready. We condemn school policies [that] would damage children, defile the holy image of God.

“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.”

A group called Parents Against Critical Theory obtained a Thursday email from Leesburg Elementary School principal Shawn Lacey announcing Cross’ leave.

“I’m contacting you to let you know that one of our physical education teachers, Tanner Cross, is on leave beginning this morning. In his absence, his duties will be covered by substitute staff already working in our building,” Lacey wrote.

“I wanted you to know this because it may affect your student’s school routine. Because this involves a personnel matter, I can offer no further information.”

However, a school spokesman said that “the decision to place an employee on leave is not the principal’s.”

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“The contents of personnel files are confidential under state and federal law. I cannot comment other to say that Mr. Cross is on administrative leave with pay,” the spokesman said.

The issue under debate here is a draft of Policy 8040, which deals with the “rights of transgender and gender-expansive students.”

“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 policy 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 policy continues.

“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.”

Fox News reported a separate policy states that staff “shall allow gender-expansive and transgender students to participate in such activities in a manner consistent with the student’s gender identity.”

According to the Loudoun Times-Mirror, the policies were written in response to Virginia state legislation that requires schools to adopt “policies that are consistent with … model policies developed by the [Virginia] Department of Education” on transgender students.

Now, if you think you’ve heard of Loudoun County, Virginia, in the past few months — especially in the context of their public schools — you’re probably not imagining things. The schools in the Washington, D.C., area suburb — the richest county in the United States, with a median household income of over $142,000 — has had a busy 2021 so far.

Loudoun County Public Schools first appeared on the national radar in February when a memo they sent out had them pegged as patient zero in our brief national frenzy to cancel all things Dr. Seuss.

In the memo, where LCPS announced they would be de-emphasizing Seuss’ works on “Read Across America Day” — an occasion which was established on Seuss’ birthday for reasons not of coincidence — the district said “[r]esearch in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss.”

If anyone ever writes a definitive historical account of what happened in the febrile weeks that followed, I’d love to know if that memo was the actual inciting incident in the Great Battle of Green Eggs and Ham.

Was the school right to fire this teacher?

Whatever the case, shortly after the memo went national, President Joe Biden conspicuously left any mention of Seuss out of his “Read Across America Day” statement (an unusual occurrence), six of Seuss’ books were pulled out of print and the New York Public Library actually had to weigh in on whether it would be keeping the offending tomes. (The library said it would be.)

Shortly after that, a battle between proponents and opponents of a critical race theory-based program being implemented in LCPS drew scrutiny, particularly after proponents of the program got crowdfunding tech giant GoFundMe to suspend a fundraising campaign for Parents Against Critical Theory, a parents group opposed to the program. (Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s also the organization that forwarded the email announcing Tanner Cross’ suspension to Fox News.)

In other words, we’re dealing with a school district whose board members, I’m going to wager, didn’t even make it to page 25 of “Hillbilly Elegy.”

The problem is they still need to deal with the rabblement who, like Cross, won’t “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.” Cross said his religion wouldn’t allow him to affirm it. I would go further and say science and psychology also don’t point in that direction.

He spoke out against the policy at a school board meeting, as a member of the Loudoun community. He’s now on leave and it’s clear that decision has been made by the higher-ups. It’s not clear, to be fair, whether the leave is directly related to what was said at the meeting.

However, what’s obvious is that dissenting views — even those based on the religious principle that a man is created as a man and a woman as a woman, certainly not an uncommon one — are dangerous things to air these days.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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