Loudoun County Public Schools is appealing a circuit court judge’s decision to reinstate an elementary teacher who had been suspended after publicly stating he would not refer to transgender students by their chosen names or pronouns, according to a Friday press release.
On June 8, Circuit Court Judge Jim Plowman Jr. issued a temporary injunction reinstating Byron “Tanner” Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, following a three-hour hearing on June 4.
“LCPS respectfully disagrees with the circuit court’s decision to issue the injunction, and it is appealing this ruling to the Supreme Court of Virginia,” the school system stated in Friday’s release.
Additionally, officials stated in the release that the elementary school and LCPS “experienced – and continue to experience – significant disruption” since Cross addressed the board.
Cross, who has been employed by LCPS for eight years, made the remarks during the public comment portion of the May 25 school board meeting, challenging the school system’s draft Policy 8040, “Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students.”
Cross said he would “not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl, and vice versa,” citing his Christian faith as his reasoning.
Following his remarks to the School Board on May 25, Cross said on Fox News that he would refer to a child by their desired name, but reiterated that he would not use a student’s desired pronouns, saying “I just can’t say things that are untrue.”
The school system said in the Friday release that “many students and parents at Leesburg Elementary have expressed fear, hurt and disappointment about coming to school.”“Addressing those concerns is paramount to the school division’s goal to provide a safe, welcoming, and affirming learning environment for all students,” the release stated. “While LCPS respects the rights of public-school employees to free speech and free exercise of religion, those rights do not outweigh the rights of students to be educated in a supportive and nurturing environment.”
Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel and director of the Center for Academic Freedom with Alliance Defending Freedom representing Cross, said in a statement that if the Virginia Supreme Court hears the appeal that the circuit court judge’s decision will be reaffirmed.
“Judge Plowman’s opinion ordering Tanner’s reinstatement was a well-reasoned application of these facts to clearly-established law,” Langhofer said in a prepared statement. “We are confident that, if the Virginia Supreme Court hears the appeal, it will affirm the circuit court’s decision.”