People who joined an “anti-racist” Facebook group to plan in secret how to get a Christian gym teacher fired through disruption of “school activities” included a member of the Loudoun County, Va., School Board, a report noted on Friday.
Called “Anti-Racist Parents of Loudon County,” the members took aim at Leesburg Elementary School gym instructor Tanner Cross after he came out publicly to denounce a policy involving transgender students, according to screenshots of the group’s page seen by The Daily Caller.
Earlier this summer, Cross appeared at a school board meeting to push back on what he termed “abusive” transgender-preferred pronouns, telling board members he was “speaking out of love for those who are suffering from gender dysphoria.”
“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,” he continued.
“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,” he added.
Within two days, the school principal Shawn Lacey informed parents whose kids attended Leesburg Elementary that Cross had been suspended. Cross sued with the help of the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom and a state judge in Virginia ruled in his favor, ordering the school district to reinstate him. However, the district is appealing the ruling.
The Facebook group posted an “action item” pertaining to Cross on June 1, shortly after he initially appeared before the Loudoun County School Board. In March, one post seen by The Daily Caller called on members to create a list of parents who opposed the adoption and teaching of critical race theory in the district’s public school with the intent to “expose these people publicly.” That post led to a recall campaign targeting a half-dozen Loudoun County board members.
“Action item regarding Byron (Tanner) Cross, Leesburg ES,” that post began. “DISRUPTION OF SCHOOL ACTIVITIES due to his employment can help keep Cross on leave. This should take the form of phone calls and/or emails to Shawn Lacey, the principal of Leesburg ES.”
“Let’s keep the heat on to demonstrate that Cross’ behavior is not only contrary to district, state, and federal policy, but also unacceptable to our community,” the post continued.
Cross’s initial pushback was on May 25 against policy 8040, which pertains to the rights of transgender students. On May 21, Beth Barts, a Loudon County School Board member, posted to the Facebook group but referenced a separate policy prohibiting the “[d]emeaning or otherwise harmful actions” of a broad range of parameters including preferred gender identity and expression.
“I want to remind the community that we already passed a policy referring to gender expression. We passed this policy months ago,” she wrote.
She also sent an email to Loudoun County Public Schools superintendent Scott Ziegler on May 26 voicing her concerns about Cross’s comments during the board meeting the previous evening.
The Daily Caller reported obtaining several emails that were sent to Loudon County Public Schools officials about Cross; at least 12 of them were from members of the secret Facebook group, a partial list of members obtained by the news outlet revealed.
In his ruling in favor of Cross, District Court Judge James E. Plowman Jr. wrote that suspending Cross was “an unconstitutional action … which has silenced others from speaking publicly on the issue.”
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