The organization representing Tanner Cross praised Tuesday’s decision, which required Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) to end the suspension it imposed on him after he made controversial comments about gender.
“Nobody should be punished for expressing concern about a proposed government policy, especially when the government invites comment on that policy,” said Alliance Defending Freedom President and CEO 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. 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.”
“School officials singled out his speech, offered in his private capacity at a public meeting, as ‘disruptive’ and then suspended him for speaking his mind. That’s neither legal nor constitutional. Dozens of other teachers have shared their beliefs on various policies without retaliation; Tanner deserves to be treated with the same respect.”
In a letter Tuesday, Twelfth Circuit Judge James E. Plowman ordered LCPS to restore Cross’ position as a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School. The temporary injunction will allow Cross to maintain his job until Dec. 31, at which point the injunction will dissolve unless other orders are put in place.
Plowman argued that Cross was likely to succeed if his case was brought to trial, that the school district had adversely impacted his First Amendment rights, and that reinstating his job was within the “public interest.”
Cross sparked an uproar last month when he told LCPS’ school board that he wouldn’t “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.”
Just days after that speech, Cross was told in a letter not to come on the school’s premises. The letter vaguely stated the school district was investigating “allegations that you engaged in conduct that has had a disruptive impact on the operations” of his school.
Plowman’s letter rejected the school district’s argument that it was suspending Cross not due to his speech, but because of the disruption it created.
“[T]he Court has found … that the disruption relied upon was insufficient,” he wrote, adding that Cross’ speech and religious content were “central” to LCPS’ decision.
LCPS declined to comment when asked on Tuesday.
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