Teacher Reinstated Chrisitian

Virginia Supreme Court Says Teacher Was Within His First Amendment Rights To Reject Gender-Pronoun Policy

Faith and truth still matter.

So said the Virginia Supreme Court in siding with a public school teacher who criticized his county school district’s transgender policy for violating his religious beliefs.

The case involved Tanner Cross, a phys ed teacher who in May told the Loudoun County School Board that his faith precluded him from calling students by their chosen preferred pronouns – as a proposed district policy mandated.

“I love all of my students, but I would never lie to them regardless of the consequences,” Cross told the board back in May. “I’m a teacher, but I serve God first and I will not affirm 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.”

According to the Washington Free Beacon, the state Supreme Court turned thumbs down on the argument by Loudoun County that student comfort and mental well-being trump the First Amendment.

 “While LCPS respects the rights of public-school employees to free speech and free exercise of religion,” the school district had argued, “those rights do not outweigh the rights of students to be educated in a supportive and nurturing environment.”

The district also had sought to punish Cross, but a lower court judge blocked that.

On Monday, the Virginia Supreme Court maintained that the county did not produce compelling evidence to overturn the initial ruling.

“It is settled law that the government may not take adverse employment actions against its employees in reprisal for their exercising their right to speak on matters of public concern,” the court’s ruling said.

“Cross was opposing a policy that might burden his freedoms of expression and religion by requiring him to speak and interact with students in a way that affirms gender transition, a concept he rejects for secular and spiritual reasons. Under such circumstances, Cross’ interest in making his public comments was compelling.”

Tyson Langhofer, director of the Center for Academic Freedom for the Alliance Defending Freedom, the public-interest law firm that represented Cross, said, “Teachers shouldn’t be forced to promote ideologies that are harmful to their students and that they believe are false, nor should they be silenced for commenting at a public meeting.”

“The lower court’s decision was a well-reasoned application of the facts to clearly established law, as the Virginia Supreme Court found,” he added.

Yet the case is not over.

The School Board last month approved the policy that Cross objected to back in May. Now, the ADF says, it has amended its lawsuit because two other teachers have come forward to object.

“Because Loudoun County Public Schools is now requiring all teachers and students to deny truths about what it means to be male and female and compelling them to call students by their chosen pronouns or face punishment, we have moved to amend our lawsuit to challenge that policy on behalf of multiple faculty members,” Langhofer said.

“Public employees cannot be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep a job.”

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