Loudoun County Public Schools

Teachers Sue Loudoun County School Board Over Transgender Student Policy

In court, the judge hurled a series of pointed questions at the school board's legal team, even questioning pieces of the policy that the teachers' lawsuit doesn't bring up.

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Loudoun County teachers are suing the school board and asking a judge to stop the new transgender and gender-fluid student rights policy.

Earlier this year, Loudoun County Public Schools adopted Policy 8040, which requires teachers to address students by their chosen pronouns and allows them to use the restroom associated with their gender identity, among other things.

The school board says it creates a safer, more inclusive environment. Three teachers argued Monday that it violates their first amendment rights and asked a circuit court judge for a temporary injunction to halt the policy district-wide.

Among them was Tanner Cross, an elementary physical education teacher who earlier this year told the school board he would not adhere to the policy. 

“Today we asked the court to halt this policy because it forces me to say things that are both untrue and harmful to my students,” Cross said. 

He claims the policy infringes on his right to exercise freedom of religion, because his religion does not acknowledge that a biological male or female can have another gender identity.

He and his attorneys also claim the policy coerces speech that violates his first amendment rights.

“When you're forced to acknowledge those things, your rights are being violated because the government is forcing you to say something you disagree with,” Tyson Langhofer, Cross’ attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, said. 

Attorneys for the school board argued that because Cross and all teachers are government employees in an educational setting, student pronouns are considered "curricular speech" and a fundamental piece of a teacher’s job.

“The school board's Policy 8040 doesn't violate the plaintiff's constitutional rights under the constitution of Virginia,” Stacy Haney, an attorney representing the school board, said. 

In court, the judge hurled a series of pointed questions at the school board's legal team, even questioning pieces of the policy that Cross' lawsuit doesn't bring up.

When the board was asked if they worried that those questions would weigh in the judge’s decision, Haney said she’d “rather not comment further.”

The judge said he'll release his decision when he reaches one, but said it probably won't happen until after Thanksgiving at the earliest.

Prior to this hearing, Loudoun County had suspended Cross for his objection to the policy. The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled against the school system, and Cross was allowed to return to work.

Monday, the school board agreed to a permanent injunction that will prohibit it from retaliating against Cross for speaking out at school board meetings or in the community.

Go here to see the full text of proposed Policy 8040. Go here to see the Virginia Department of Education’s “Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools.” 

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