VA Supreme Court orders teacher be reinstated after suspension for opposing controversial gender policy

The Virginia Supreme Court has dealt a defeat to the radical Loudon County, Va., school board and provided a win for free speech, and as a result, a teacher is going back on the job.

Turning away an appeal by the board, the state’s highest court has green-lit a lower court’s temporary injunction that ordered the board to reinstate suspended Leesburg Elementary School gym teacher Tanner Cross.

The gym teacher got into hot water for declaring at a public meeting earlier this year that his religious beliefs forbade him from endorsing a purported transgender ideology that the board was advocating.

On May 25, Cross told the board, in part, “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.”

Cross was suspended about 48 hours later and banned from the campus as well as access to any further school board meetings.

This is only an interim victory for the teacher, however, in that Cross’s lawsuit alleging that the board violated his free-speech and free-exercise-of-religion rights under the Virginia constitution is reportedly headed to trial next week.

In its  14-page decision affirming a Loudon County judge’s pro-teacher injunction, the state supreme court wrote, in part:

Cross was opposing a policy that might burden his freedoms of expression and religion by requiring him to speak and interact with students in a way that affirms gender transition, a concept he rejects for secular and spiritual reasons. Under such circumstances, Cross’ interest in making his public comments was compelling….

Although the Board may have considered Cross’ speech to be a trifling and annoying instance of individual distasteful abuse of a privilege,” we believe Cross has a strong claim to the view that his public dissent implicates “fundamental societal values” deeply embedded in our Constitutional Republic.

 

The court also seemed to disagree with the board’s premise the Cross’ remarks were disruptive in that only a few parents complained.

The only disruption the Defendants can point to is that a tiny minority of parents requested that Cross not interact with their children. However, the Defendants identify no case in which such a nominal actual or expected disturbance justified restricting speech as constitutionally valued as Cross’ nor have they attempted to explain why immediate suspension and restricted access to further Board meetings was the proportional or rational response to addressing the concerns of so few parents.

 

In August, despite objections from many parents, Loudon County officials approved the controversial policy that expanded the rights of transgender students.

The policy allows transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity, to participate in sports and other activities “in a manner consistent with the student’s gender identity,” and to be addressed by their names and pronouns of choice.

The pro-free speech Alliance Defending Freedom legal organization is representing Cross in the case as well as challenging the board policy itself.

“Teachers shouldn’t be forced to promote ideologies that are harmful to their students and that they believe are false, nor should they be silenced for commenting at a public meeting…But because Loudoun County Public Schools is now requiring all teachers and students to deny truths about what it means to be male and female and compelling them to call students by their chosen pronouns or face punishment, we have moved to amend our lawsuit to challenge that policy on behalf of multiple faculty members,” ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer declared.

“Public employees cannot be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep a job,” he added.

Loudon County in the D.C. suburbs has become one the epicenters of trendy far-left indoctrination in the school system and the resulting substantial parental pushback that has occurred at school board meetings.

In this report from Fox 5 in D.C., the enthusiastic teacher suggested that he is looking forward to going back to work because of his bond with students at the school:

Robert Jonathan

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