The Loudoun County Public Schools system apparently learned exactly nothing from the electoral wave that swept Virginia, in what was viewed by many as a repudiation to the divisive policies and anti-parent sentiment flowing from Loudoun County school board members and schools administrators.
Those same officials are now fighting a lawsuit brought by Loudoun County teachers suing the school board and asking a judge to stop the new school system’s transgender and gender-fluid student rights policy, reported NBC Washington.
Policy 8040, its official name, requires teachers and staff to refer to students by their chosen pronouns and allow students to use the restrooms associated with their preferred gender.
A decision to grant an injunction on the policy likely won’t be reached until after the holidays, but Loudoun County officials have stayed busy in court.
The school system this week agreed to reinstate a teacher who had sued the school board after he was put on administrative leave for publicly criticizing the policy.
Tanner Cross, a gym teacher who was suspended last spring, said the policy infringed 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, according to NBC Washington. He also claimed the policy coerced speech that violated his First Amendment rights.
“The Virginia constitution is very clear that the government cannot punish teachers for expressing their views on topics of public concern,” said Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel at the Alliance for Defending Freedom, an organization representing Cross in court.
“And it’s very clear also the government cannot compel people to speak messages they disagree with,” Langhofer told The Hill.
Cross will collect $20,000 in compensation for legal fees from Loudoun County and have the suspension removed from his record.
Cross is also one of three teachers involved with the ongoing lawsuit against the school system; after the Cross settlement was announced, lawyers said the actual policy will remain the target of their litigation.
“Policy 8040 is based on ideology and not sound science,” said Kimberly Wright, one of the teachers who joined the lawsuit.
“It threatens the well being of students and undermines school officials and teachers ability to serve in accordance with their beliefs,” Wright said.
Attorneys representing the teachers said in court that Policy 8040 is also too subjective, and terms such as “gender-expansive” are too broad for an effective and clear policy easily followed by teachers, according to WTOP News.
The lawyers contended that there were simply too many pronouns for teachers to learn and that the policy would allow students to change pronouns too frequently, which they said could lead to “mischief.”
Indeed, during the most recent proceeding the presiding judge said that some pronouns on the school’s list were words he “did not recognize.”
Loudoun County schools officials argue the controversial policy creates a safer, more inclusive environment. They also contend the preferred pronoun dictum falls under “curricular speech,” and that personal beliefs should not interfere with the school’s curriculum.