A Christian schoolteacher will be allowed back into the classroom after a judge ruled the Loudoun County, Va., school district wrongfully suspended him for criticizing its proposed transgender policies.
Tanner Cross, who spoke out at a public school board meeting saying his faith would not allow him to use pronouns for individuals not compliant with their biological sex, sued the county following his suspension. The school alleged that he had caused a “disruption,” citing several parent complaints. Judge James Plowman said the district violated Cross’s religious and speech rights.
“The public’s knowledge that [Cross’s] speech was permissible, is encouraged, and is free from governmental oppression serves the public interest,” Plowman wrote. “Governmental bodies being held in check for violating a citizen’s constitutional rights serves the public interest.”
Cross’s suit against Loudoun County Public Schools is not over. His lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom, a pro bono religious liberty firm, are seeking a more permanent ruling as Tuesday’s decision is only effective until December. Plowman gave the involved parties until June 16 “to schedule a trial on the merits” while noting the teacher is likely to prevail on his First Amendment complaint.
“Nobody should be punished for expressing concern about a proposed government policy, especially when the government invites comment on that policy,” said ADF president Michael Farris. “For that reason, we are pleased at the court’s decision to halt Loudoun County Public Schools’ retaliation against Tanner Cross while his lawsuit continues.”
Farris said all public school teachers should be free to express their views as American citizens. “Educators are just like everybody else—they have ideas and opinions that they should be free to express. Advocating for solutions they believe in should not cost them their jobs,” he said.
The ruling follows a weekend rally in Leesburg, Va., where parents from throughout the county showed up to support Cross and express their opposition to the increasing wokeness of the school district.