VIRGINIA (June 8, 2021)–today Tanner Cross a Virginia teacher was reinstated from leave after testifying before the Loudon County School Board as a private citizen. Cross said during his public testimony at the school board that he wouldn’t address transgender students by their pronouns. A Virginia judge ruled against the Loudon County School Board’s decision to dismiss Cross.
The court granted Tanner Cross’s request for a temporary injunction immediately, saying the district must allow him to return to his position and stop banning him from Loudoun County Public Schools property.
Judge James E. Plowman Jr. wrote that he granted the injunction because Cross’s rights to speech and religious liberty are central to the case.
The Facts: The teacher first contended that his suspension was an act of retaliation following his exercise of his rights to free speech. The teacher’s also stated that “his speech was constitutionally protected, and that the Loudon County’s board retaliatory action adversely affected the teacher’s constitutionally protected speech, and there was a causal relationship between the speech and the act of the school board.
The Judge ruled that the teacher was speaking as a citizen, not in his official capacity as an educator. The Court further stated that the teachers “speech was not conducted at his usual place of employment, occurred during non-working hours and at a forum where public comment was invited.” And that the teacher was held to the same standards as other citizens speaking before the board.
The judge further ruled that the subject matter which Cross spoke ‘was one that can only be described as a “”mater of public concern”” as it related to transgender issues, as well as the expected conduct of Loudon school’s staff and students within the public school system.
Cross was suspended two days after voicing his objection to a proposed policy on how to address transgender students. During his testimony–he told the Loudoun County School Board that he believed the proposed transgender policy would be “abuse of a child” and “sinning.”
“Last Tuesday, I went to school board meeting and respectfully objected to two proposed policies,” Cross said at a rally after Friday’s hearing. “When I spoke, I was thinking about my values, my students, my parents and my fellow teachers. The truth is I’m not alone. Many of us are concerned that proposed policies would harm students and require us to violate our beliefs by saying things that are not true.”
“LCPS should not require me to violate my conscience and lie to my students,” Cross said.
The proposed transgender policy Cross testified against is one of two that have not yet gone into effect, and the court hasn’t weighed in on the policy.
Read the entire Court’s order here.
Source: NBC contributed to the article.