A Virginia gym teacher who was suspended for objecting to two policies related to transgender students because he said they went against his religion has been ordered to be reinstated by a judge, who pointed to free speech and religious liberty in his decision.
Byron Tanner Cross, 38, was suspended from Leesburg Elementary in Loudoun County, Virginia, two weeks ago, after speaking at a school board meeting on May 25.
He was arguing over two policies put in place by the public school board: one mandating teachers use the pronouns a transgender child identifies with, and one allowing transgender kids to take part in sports with the gender they identify with.
The second one also allows kids to use the locker room and bathroom of the gender they identify with.
Cross, in his speech, said the policies ‘defile the holy image of God’ and constitute child abuse. He also cited a recent 60 Minutes where Leslie Stahl interviewed a handful of young people who had transitioned within months of seeking treatment then regretted it.
He was suspended afterwards with just about three weeks left in the school year and the school board said it was investigating his remarks.
On Tuesday, Twelfth Circuit Judge James E. Plowman ordered the school district to restore Cross’ job.
Cross, a physical education teacher, filed a lawsuit against the school board last week claiming he is being punished for exercising his First Amendment rights. He went to court in Leesburg hoping to get a judge to lift his suspension while the suit is litigated.
Judge Orders Reinstatement of Virginia Teacher Who Said He Won't Use Transgender Students' Pronouns https://t.co/AXna6WbCm6— NBC 6 South Florida (@nbc6) June 8, 2021
The school board has so far not commented on the suspension or the lawsuit.
According to court documents, “an aggrieved party” has 15 days to ask the court to review the ruling. The judge directed Cross, the school board and attorneys to schedule a trial within weeks.
The proposed policy Cross is against is one of two that have not yet gone into effect, and the court hasn’t weighed in on the policy.