A Virginia gym teacher who was suspended for refusing to use transgender students’ preferred pronouns must go back to work, a judge ruled on Tuesday.
Byron “Tanner” Cross was suspended and banned from school grounds after he said at a Loudoun County Public Schools meeting last month that he wouldn’t recognize “a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa” because of his Christian faith.
Judge James E. Plowman of the 20th Judicial Circuit of Virginia granted Cross a temporary injunction in a seven-page order, and criticized the school district for the suspension coming only three weeks before end of the school year.
“Action could certainly have been taken by the Defendants that did not rise to this extreme,” the judge wrote in the ruling, obtained by The Loudoun Times-Mirror.
Plowman said in his order that an email blast to Leesburg Elementary School parents about the suspension was “unnecessary and vindictive” so close to the end of the year.
Cross had sued last week, saying the suspension violated his First Amendment rights, NBC News 4 Washington said.
The district can still petition for review of the court order within 15 days, the ruling said.
Cross’ remarks came at a meeting about a “Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students” policy in a school district that’s already embroiled in a heated culture-wars debate about critical race theory.
“My name is Tanner Cross and I am speaking out of love for those who are suffering from gender dysphoria,” he said, video of the meeting showed.
He referred to a “60 Minutes” special that showed teens who were now “de-transitioning” after apparently rushing their decisions.
“I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences,” he said.
“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 a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God,” he said.
The policy he objected to says that “staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence,” the Loudoun Times-Mirror said.
The critical race theory has drawn national attention to the school district as parents clashed over the concept, with anti-CRT parents saying they were targeted for their views. A group took out ads calling for six board members to be recalled for their alleged support of CRT.