Virginia gym teacher fighting suspension after opposing transgender preferred pronoun policies

A gym teacher in northern Virginia is fighting against his suspension that was issued after he protested against proposed school policies that would allow transgender students to use their preferred pronouns.

Leesburg Elementary teacher Tanner Cross was suspended after saying during a school board meeting on May 25 that he would not abide by rules that would require teachers to use students' preferred pronouns, The Associated Press reports.

Cross employed the aid of a Christian conservative legal group called Alliance Defending Freedom and sent a letter to Loudoun County Public Schools demanding his reinstatement.

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The school district is reviewing its policies in light of a state mandate that requires all school systems to update their policies regarding transgender students. The regulations being circulated by the state recommend requiring students to be referred to by their preferred pronouns.

In Wisconsin, the Madison Metropolitan School District was sued by a group of parents last year for allowing students to use their preferred pronouns and names. Although students require parental permission before their name and pronouns are changed on official documents, the school district allowed students to go by their preferred names and pronouns without permission in their everyday interactions.

The parents claimed the school district violated the state constitution’s due process, which protects their right to raise their child how they see fit.

GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), an organization focused on creating positive learning environments for LGBTQ youth, provides guidance on how to include and use preferred pronouns in schools.

"Including pronouns is a first step toward respecting people’s identity and creating a more welcoming space for people of all genders," the organization said in its guidance. "By providing an opportunity for people to share their pronouns, you’re showing that you’re not assuming that their gender identity is based on their appearance."