Loudoun County School Board Settles after Losing First Amendment Lawsuit | National Review

Loudoun County School Board Settles after Losing First Amendment Lawsuit | National Review

Gym teacher Tanner Cross testifies before the school board in Loudoun County, Va., May 25, 2021. (WSLS10/via YouTube)

The school board in Loudoun County, Va., has agreed to a permanent injunction prohibiting it from retaliating against Tanner Cross, a teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, who was suspended from his job after expressing opposition to the district’s new gender-identity policy.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece covering the new policy, which permits students in Loudoun County’s public schools to use restrooms and locker rooms, as well as compete in sports, on the basis of the gender with which they identify rather than their biological sex.

The policy also requires teachers in Loudoun County to use students’ preferred pronouns rather than those that reflect their sex, and it doesn’t require students to offer “any substantiating evidence” of their new gender identity. Under the policy, teachers would not be punished for “inadvertent slips,” i.e. a student’s given name or biological pronoun by accident — but “intentionally and persistently” doing so would be a violation.

At least one public-school teacher has quit her job since the board approved the policy, and Cross was suspended after stating at a school-board meeting that his Christian faith precluded him from using a hypothetical student’s preferred pronouns, because doing so would constitute lying.

In response to his suspension, Cross sued the local school district, arguing that his First Amendment free-speech rights had been violated. The Loudoun County Circuit Court granted Cross preliminary relief, requiring the school board to reinstate him while the case proceeded to the Virginia Supreme Court, which affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Now the school district has settled with Cross, agreeing to cease retaliation against him for stating his opposition to the policy. The school district has also agreed to remove references to his suspension from his personnel file and will pay $20,000 of his attorneys’ fees.

Cross was represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, which in August amended its suit to include two additional Loudoun County teachers, high-school history teacher Monica Gill and middle-school English teacher Kim Wright, who are challenging the gender-identity policy on the grounds that it requires them to contradict their beliefs.

If the teachers are required to comply with the policy, ADF’s complaint on their behalf states, “they would be forced to communicate a message they believe is false—that gender identity, rather than biological reality, fundamentally shapes and defines who we truly are as humans, that our sex can change, and that a woman who identifies as a man really is a man, and vice versa.”

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.