Suspended Teacher Who Objected to Referring to Students by Preferred Pronouns Sues District

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A Virginia public-school teacher who was placed on paid administrative leave after objecting to the district’s proposed transgender policy has sued the district, the Loudon Times-Mirror reported.

Byron “Tanner” Cross, a physical-education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, objected at a school-board meeting last week to a proposed policy that would require teachers to refer to students by their preferred gender pronouns. The lawsuit filed Tuesday by Cross’s attorneys alleges the suspension violated his right to free speech.

Cross’s leave is “pending an investigation of allegations that [Cross] engaged in conduct that has had a disruptive impact on the operations of Leesburg Elementary School,” interim assistant superintendent Lucia Villa Sebastian wrote in a letter last week.

The lawsuit names Sebastian, interim superintendent Scott Ziegler, and the Loudon County School Board as defendants. The district has not publicly confirmed that Cross was suspended because of his opposition to the transgender policy.

“I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences,” Cross told the school board at a meeting May 25. “I am 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.”

The policy to refer to children by their preferred pronouns was drafted to comply with state legislation calling on schools to implement “policies that are consistent with model policies developed by the [Virginia] Department of Education.”

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