A judge ruled that Loudoun County Public Schools violated a Christian teacher’s rights and must immediately reinstate him until a trial date is set. Byron “Tanner” Cross rose to the conservative spotlight after a video of his “testimony” opposing transgender policies at the School Board meeting last month went viral.
Cross told the school board that he could no longer sit silently. He said, “I love all my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences.” Cross was referring to the School Board’s proposal to require faculty and staff to refer to students as their preferred pronoun.
Cross spoke to the School Board, saying, “It is not my intention to hurt anyone. But there are certain truths that we must face when ready. We condemn school policies like 8040 and 8035 because it will damage children and defile the holy image of God.”
He said, “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.” He considers calling a child by a preferred pronoun akin to “lying to a child.” “It’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”
Cross was suspended for the words he spoke at the School Board meeting. His attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) said that “the core of constitutional liberty in a free society – the ability to comment on public policy under consideration without fear of retaliation – is at stake in this case.” The attorneys felt that “Mr. Cross used his constitutional right to speak up in the hope of persuading the board not to go down the unconstitutional trail the policy would blaze.”
They argued that instead of reevaluating the board’s path, “in response, Mr. Cross was met with a separate, immediate violation of his rights, a retaliatory suspension and prior restraint on his speech.”
Local reports from WTOP state that Loudoun County Circuit Judge James Plowman agreed in part with Mr. Cross’s lawyers. “Loudoun County Public Schools has been ordered by a judge to reinstate physical education teacher Byron Tanner Cross.” Judge Plowman ruled that Mr. Cross should not have been suspended for “speaking as a citizen.” The judge agreed that since the boarding meeting was “not conducted at his usual place of employment” and “occurred during nonworking hours at a forum, where public comment was invited,” Cross was “not” speaking “in his official capacity.”
Judge Plowman said, “The Court finds that [Mr. Cross’s] speech and religious content are central to the determination made by [Loudoun County Public Schools] to suspend [Mr. Cross’s] employment.” He added, “The Court further finds that the weight of the evidence and the totality of the circumstances, clearly show that the four prongs for issuance of temporary injunction have been satisfied.”