This was a good week for Tanner Cross.
The Virginia Supreme Court handed Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School in northern Virginia, a major victory Monday, when it agreed his suspension for opposing a leftist transgender policy was likely a violation of his constitutional rights.
Cross first garnered national attention in May, when he said during a meeting that he opposed a Loudoun County Public Schools policy requiring district faculty to affirm students’ chosen gender identities by using their preferred pronouns — irrespective of biological sex — as well as allowing kids to participate in activities that correlate with their selected identities.
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To comply with such a policy, the educator said, would violate his beliefs.
“It’s lying to a child,” Cross said of the transgender-affirming rule. “It’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”
The Christian teacher was suspended after delivering his remarks. In response, Cross filed a lawsuit and, just a few days later, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James Plowman reinstated the teacher, calling the district’s suspension of his duties “unnecessary and vindictive.”
LCPS pressed forward regardless, intending to take the case to the Supreme Court. The district claimed students’ “rights … to be educated in a supportive and nurturing environment” overshadows Cross’ personal rights.
In a 14-page decision, the Virginia Supreme Court argued otherwise.
The suggestion that Cross’ views “might harm children” cannot be used to “justify his swift suspension,” the state’s high court ruled, explaining:
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.
Although the Board may have considered Cross’ speech to be “a trifling and annoying instance of individual distasteful abuse of a privilege,” we believe Cross has a strong claim to the view that his public dissent implicates “fundamental societal values” deeply embedded in our Constitutional Republic.
All three of the school district’s arguments in appeal were rejected.
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