Virginia Leesburg Elementary School teacher Tanner Cross, who was suspended for speaking out against the school district’s proposed “gender-expansive” policy, has won a settlement filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
After a May 25th board meeting, Cross was suspended for saying, “It’s against my religion” as a Christian to “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.” Cross was later reinstated after a judge agreed that the teacher was “speaking as a citizen, not in his official capacity” and in “a forum where public comment was invited.”
In a statement released on Monday November, 15, 2021, the ADF wrote, “The Loudoun County School Board has agreed to a permanent injunction prohibiting it from retaliating against Cross for expressing his constitutionally protected views on the board’s transgender policy.”
According to the ADF, the school’s policy requires “all faculty and students, regardless of their beliefs about biological sex and gender, to use the pronouns that students demand regardless of their biological sex.”
“I am speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria,” Cross said at the May 25th meeting. “I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them, regardless of the consequences. I’m a teacher, but I serve God first.”
In August, the ADF was granted permission by the court to amend its previous suit to add teachers Monica Gill and Kim Wright as clients alongside Cross.
The settlement, which was agreed upon last week, requires the school board to erase the suspension from Cross’ record in exchange for him dropping the lawsuit.
The school board also agreed to pay Cross’ ADF attorney fees, which amount to $20,000.
ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said in their released statement, “Teachers shouldn’t be forced to promote ideologies that are harmful to their students and that they believe are false, and they certainly shouldn’t be silenced from commenting at public meetings.”
“While we are very pleased that Tanner will be able to keep serving his students in light of this settlement, the concerns expressed in our ongoing lawsuit challenging the district’s policy remain,” Langhofer continued. “Public employees cannot be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep a job. Freedom — of speech and religious exercise — includes the freedom not to speak messages against our core beliefs. That’s why our lawsuit asks the court to protect the constitutional rights of our clients by immediately halting enforcement of this harmful school district policy.”
Regarding the settlement, Cross said, “Just today the court issued a final order permanently prohibiting Loudon County public school board from punishing me for freely expressing my views. Teachers are just like everyone else. We have ideas and views we should be free to express. And the court has vindicated those rights for me and for all teachers. I can now confidently continue teaching at Leesburg Elementary School without fear of punishment for expressing my views.”
“It is not the job of government to mandate care or mandate individual speech. In reality, they are not protecting our students. They are pushing a radical gender ideology and allowing kids to be victims of their social experiment,” Gill said in a press conference following the settlement.
Cross Uses Student’s Preferred Name
Cross told Fox News that while he will not refer to students by a gender that is different from their biological reality, he will refer to them by their preferred first name, saying, “I’ll call any student by their preferred name. I just can’t say things that are untrue, which are untrue pronouns. I can’t say anything that’s harmful or lying to a child. I’ll continue to create an environment where there’s always respect and dignity and love and care to my students.”
“This is a huge win for teachers in this community. I’m so glad to be back with my students and my students are happy that I’m there. I feel vindicated,” Cross said.
Cross hopes that his victory will give confidence to other teachers to advocate for the good of their students.
In a September ruling, the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld the ruling of a lower court, which ruled that Cross’ suspension was “unnecessary and vindictive.” This ruling makes that decision permanent.
Watch Cross’ Fox News interview below: