A Virginia elementary school teacher filed a lawsuit against his school district after he was suspended following critical comments he made about the district’s transgender policies.
Byron “Tanner” Cross, a physical education instructor at Leesburg Elementary School, sued members of the Loudoun County School Board in state court on Tuesday, arguing his speech against the district’s pro-transgenderism policies was legally protected.
Cross said during a May 25 school board meeting that he would not “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa,” even if the school district passes a proposed policy that would require it.
“I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences,” 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,” Cross continued. “It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”
Cross was referring to Policy 8040, a proposal that would “allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence” and force staff to “use the name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity.”
Shortly after speaking out against the proposal, Cross was put on paid administrative leave. In his lawsuit, Cross slammed the suspension as a violation of his rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.
“Defendants placed Mr. Cross on administrative leave and threaten termination of his employment for simply expressing speech that the Virginia Constitution protects,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit demands the school reinstate Cross so he can return to work.
According to Alliance Defending Freedom, the school district responded by saying it was upholding Cross’s suspension.