Story at a glance
- Loudoun County teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross spoke out against proposed policies requiring teachers to address students by their preferred pronouns rather than those consistent with their biological sex during a school board meeting.
- Cross was put on paid administrative leave two days later.
- His attorney says the move by the school is unconstitutional.
A physical education teacher in Loudoun County, Va., has been put on paid administrative leave after speaking out at a school board meeting against proposed policies to address students by their preferred pronouns.
According to NBC 4 Washington, Byron “Tanner” Cross objected to policies requiring teachers to address students with their preferred pronouns rather than the ones consistent with their biological sex.
During a May 25 Loudoun County Public Schools board meeting, Cross said the proposed policy would go against his religious beliefs and referenced a recent “60 Minutes” episode that detailed several instances in which young people identified as trans but later detransitioned.
“I am speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria,” Tanner said during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“I love all of my students but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences. 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, it’s lying to my child, it’s abuse to a child and it’s sinning against our God,” he said.
Two days after the meeting, Leesburg Elementary School informed Tanner in a letter that he was being put on paid administrative leave. The letter said he was being investigated for allegations he “engaged in conduct that has had a disruptive impact on the operations” of the school.
A Loudoun County Public Schools spokesperson confirmed to Changing America that Cross was placed on leave but was unable to comment further. It’s not clear if he was put on leave because of his remarks about gender at the board meeting.
An attorney for Cross said the school violated his right to free and demanded the suspension be rescinded.
“Public schools have no business compelling teachers to express ideological beliefs that they don’t hold, but it’s beyond the pale to suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting, which is what such meetings are designed for,” attorney Tyson Langhofer said in a statement.
“This isn’t just about a pronoun; this is about endorsing an ideology. The school favors certain beliefs, and it wants to force Tanner to cry uncle and endorse them as well. That’s neither legal nor constitutional, and neither was the school’s move to place Tanner on leave,” he said.
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