LOUDOUN COUNTY

Virginia Teacher Asks Judge to Lift Suspension Over Comments on Transgender Pronouns

Leesburg Elementary School teacher Byron "Tanner" Cross said it's against his religion to call children by pronouns not associated with their biological sex

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A Virginia teacher escalated his fight with a school board over how to address transgender students. He asked a judge to lift his suspension while his lawsuit plays out.

Tanner Cross was suspended last week after voicing his objection to a proposed policy on how to address transgender students. Cross told the Loudoun County School Board he believed the policy is “abuse of a child.”

The physical education teacher filed a lawsuit in the Virginia 20th Judicial District Court against the school board earlier this week claiming he is being punished for exercising his First Amendment rights and went to court in Leesburg hoping to get a judge to lift his suspension while the suit is being litigated in court.

During Friday’s hearing, an attorney for the school system said the principal at Leesburg Elementary School had to remove Cross from one of his jobs the next day because he feared backlash from parents, and over the course of 48 hours, five parents asked him to remove their child from Cross’ class.

Cross’ attorney argued it was his client’s right under the First Amendment of the Constitution to express his views at the public meeting.

“When LCPS suspended Tanner they crossed a line, and that’s why we took them to court,” Tyson Langhofer said.

The judge's written ruling is expected Monday.

“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.”

Not long after the three-hour court hearing concluded, dozens of supporters gathered around Cross and prayed.

“LCPS should not require me to violate my conscience and lie to my students,” Cross said.

“I’m outraged, I’m furious, that a teacher who loves his job and his students is not teaching,” parent Beverly McCauley said.

Cross told the school board last week he could not abide by a proposed policy that would violate his beliefs.

He was suspended 48 hours later and was told he had engaged in conduct that had disrupted the operations of Leesburg Elementary School where he teaches.

Cross told the board his religious beliefs would prevent him from addressing students by their chosen pronouns rather the ones consistent with their biological sex.

In remarks that lasted less than a minute, Cross told the board he does not believe a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa. He called it abuse to a child and sinning against God.

The school board has so far not commented on the suspension or the lawsuit. The proposed policy Cross is against is one of two that have not yet gone into effect.

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