A Christian physical education teacher from Leesburg is fighting back after the school he works for suspended him for voicing opposition to new transgender policies. The teacher said that the concepts were against his religious beliefs and that he could not “lie” to his students.
Loudon County Public Schools placed Tanner Cross, who teaches at Leesburg Elementary School, on administrative leave after he said in front of the school board last week that he would not “lie” to his students by telling them that “a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.”
In his speech Cross explained calmly and respectfully that he could not abide by the new policies because of his religious beliefs. The newly implemented transgender policies require staff to use a student's preferred gender pronouns and allows transgender students to participate in activities consistent with their gender identity, as The Blaze reports.
“It's lying to a child and it's sinning against our God,” the teacher said according to the news outlet.
Shortly after finishing his speech, the district informed Cross that he was on administrative leave “pending an investigation of allegations that he engaged in conduct that had a disruptive impact on the operations of Leesburg Elementary School.”
His suspension also meant that Cross was not allowed access inside the buildings and grounds of Loudon County Public Schools, and he was barred from taking part in any district-sponsored activities or events.
The teacher filed a lawsuit
On Tuesday Cross filed a lawsuit against the district, as a reaction to what had happened. He is represented by the law firm Alliance Defending Freedom.
The firm has reportedly sent the school district a letter on Friday “explaining that placing Tanner on leave and barring him from campus because of his constitutionally protected speech constituted illegal retaliation.”
How did the district react?
The district said that it stood by its decision to suspend the teacher. They refused to reinstate him before the completion of the pending investigation, thus prompting the lawsuit to start.
“Public schools have no business compelling teachers to express ideological beliefs that they don't hold, nor do they have the right to suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting,” counsel Tyson Langhofer stated.
“The school district favors a certain set of beliefs on a hotly contested issue, and it wants to force Tanner to endorse them as well. That's neither legal nor constitutional, and neither was the school's move to place Tanner on leave,” he added about the incident concerning the Leesburg teacher.