Virginia Judge Orders Reinstatement of Elementary Teacher Critical of Transgender Policies

Virginia Judge Orders Reinstatement of Elementary Teacher Critical of Transgender Policies Virginia Judge Orders Reinstatement of Elementary Teacher Critical of Transgender Policies (Getty Images)

By Charles Kim | Tuesday, 08 June 2021 05:26 PM

A Loudoun County Public Schools elementary teacher is back on the job after the district placed him on paid leave for telling the Board of Education that addressing transgender students by their chosen pronouns was a “sin,” a Virginia Supreme Court Judge ruled Tuesday.

Elementary physical education teacher Byron Tanner Cross was put on paid leave May 27 for allegedly engaging “in conduct that has a disruptive impact on the operations of Leesburg Elementary School,” a letter to Cross from the district said.

Cross recently addressed the Board of Education and said he would not address transgender students by their chosen pronouns because he would be lying to them and committing a “sin,” according to his religious beliefs.

"It's not my intention to hurt anyone, but there are certain truths that we must face when ready. We condemn school policies [that] would damage children, defile the holy image of God,” Cross told the board. "I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences. 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. It's lying to a child, it's abuse to a child, and it's sinning against our God."

Cross sued the district after going on leave and enlisted the aid of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which, according to the organization is “the largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, and parental rights.”

In his ruling Tuesday, Virginia Supreme Court Judge granted James E. Plowman granted a temporary injunction on the district, reinstating Cross as a teacher, according to NBC News 4 in Washington, D.C.

According to a Washington Post story, Plowman’s ruling was critical of the district’s actions in removing Cross from teaching and banning him from being on school property or attending school events, saying it was “an unnecessary and vindictive act given the end of the school year was so close.”

Cross’s remarks to the board were critical of polices currently being considered by the board to align with state legislation that call on the state’s school boards to adopt "policies that are consistent with model policies developed by the [Virginia] Department of Education" by the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, according to the Loudon County Times-Mirror.

A draft of one of the proposed policies the Loudoun County board is considering, 8040, would allow “gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student’s permanent educational record.”

The policy is currently in front of the board’s Pupil Services Committee and has not yet come in front of the full board for a vote, according to the paper.

The district reports being the third largest in the state with an enrollment of 81,504 students across 95 schools, including 59 elementary schools, and an operating budget of just over $1 billion.