In a victory for free speech and academic freedom, a judge just ruled that Loudoun County teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross must be reinstated to his job.
Cross made national headlines after he slammed proposals that would bring transgender medical treatments into local Virginia schools and would force teachers to use students’ chosen pronouns, regardless of their biological sex. Cross said he wouldn’t use transgender students’ chosen pronouns, since they’re inconsistent with the biological sexes of the children.
Citing his deeply held religious beliefs, the elementary school physical education teacher said he believes the proposed transgender policies are both child abuse and sinful: “I’m a teacher, but I serve God first. 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 voiced his concerns during the public comment period of a Virginia school board meeting. He clarified that he loves the children he teaches, but he will not lie to them: “I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of [the] consequences.” Cross was promptly suspended and prohibited from visiting school property.
With the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Cross fought back by suing the school board. Last week, he filed a lawsuit, arguing that the school board is penalizing him for engaging in his First Amendment rights. As plaintiff, Cross said the following:
“Plaintiff first contends that his suspension was an act of retaliation following his exercise of his rights to free speech in that, 1) his speech was constitutionally protected, 2) the Defendants’ retaliatory action adversely affected the Plaintiff’s constitutionally protected speech, and 3) there was a causal relationship between the speech and the action.”
While the suit continues to be litigated in court, Cross was temporarily vindicated when Judge James E. Plowman Jr. granted injunction, holding that Cross’s religious liberty and free speech rights are integral to the case and that Cross’s criticisms are protected by the First Amendment. Cross was “speaking as a
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