UPDATED 6/2, 2:35 p.m. ET: Physical education teacher Tanner Cross is now suing over the fallout for his actions, saying his constitutional rights to free speech and exercise of religion were violated. He’s filed a lawsuit against the Loudoun County Public Schools board as well as its interim superintendent and an interim assistant superintendent. He’s seeking a restraining order against the individuals and the undoing of all consequences he faced, i.e. being put on leave and forbidden to set foot on school grounds or attend school-related activities and board meetings.
Cross pinned his choice on his Christian faith, saying using people’s chosen pronouns is “lying to a child...abuse to a child...and it’s sinning against our god.”
“The suit was filed by two lawyers with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal advocacy group that has been involved in lawsuits that call into question the rights of transgender people,” the Washington Post writes, adding that the same group is representing another Virginia teacher who refused to use a trans boy’s pronouns. The article says Cross’ 25-page suit “goes into great detail on [his] religious beliefs and worldview,” explaining that he feels “god created two genders, male and female, and that his faith ‘commands him to tell the truth and not tell lies.’”
Cross supposedly doesn’t expect everyone in Loudoun schools to accept his transphobic beliefs, but wants to be able to choose whether to comply with children’s chosen pronouns (and common human decency).
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Byron “Tanner” Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary, attended a Loudoun County Public Schools meeting about a “Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students” policy last week, sharing that he was “speaking out of love for those who are suffering from gender dysphoria.” In his speech in front of the district, the gym teacher said he watched a 60 Minutes special about teenagers de-transitioning, according to the New York Post.
“It’s not my intention to hurt anyone, but there are certain truths that we must face when ready,” he said, later adding that he “serves God” before being a teacher and that he will “not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion.”
The district confirmed to the Loudoun-Times Mirror that Cross had been placed on leave last week, as the teacher’s wife Angela Cross elaborated on the news on her Facebook page.
She wrote that they “spoke out first and foremost to protect the children” and thought they were defending “the first amendment rights of teachers and staff.”
“Because this involves a personnel matter, I can offer no further information,” Leesburg Elementary principal Shawn Lacy wrote in his statement.