judge has ruled that a teacher who was suspended for telling a school board that he would not use the preferred pronouns of transgender
students should be reinstated.
Judge James E. Plowman Jr.
ruled on Tuesday that Byron "Tanner" Cross, a teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, must be allowed to return to work
after the school's principal
suspended him in late May for objecting to a proposed policy on how to address transgender students.
The policy would allow transgender students to use their preferred names and gender pronouns
, but Cross, a physical education
teacher, claims it violates his religious beliefs.
“I am 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 is against my religion
, lying to a child, abusing a child, and sinning against our God,” Cross said last month to the Loudoun County School Board, according to NBC
During a court hearing on Friday, an attorney for Loudoun County Schools
stated that the principal of Cross' school was concerned about a backlash from parents and fired Cross.
Cross' refusal to use preferred pronouns could jeopardize a child's safety, according to Chris Candice Tuck, vice president
of Equality Loudoun, a nonprofit LGBTQ
“Religion doesn’t factor in here; it’s the safety and well-being of a child,” Tuck, who is transgender and has two children
, told WTHR. “As a parent in Loudoun County, it doesn’t matter what my children are; they should be cared for, affirmed, and kept safe by their teachers, staff, and faculty. That’s what we trust them to do.
Plowman ruled on Tuesday that Cross' comments are protected speech and that the district could not show that his comments caused a disruption in school operations.
Cross has also filed a lawsuit
against the school, alleging infringement on his First Amendment
“When LCPS suspended Tanner, they crossed a line, which is why we went to court,” Cross’ attorney, Tyson Langhofer, told NBC 4.