- THE BLAZE - JUNE 8, 2021 - PHIL SHIVER -
A Virginia judge has reinstated a Christian elementary school teacher who was suspended by his school district after voicing opposition to the district's new transgender-affirming policies.
What are the details?
In a decision issued Tuesday, Judge James E. Plowman Jr. granted Tanner Cross a temporary injunction and ordered that he be immediately reinstated by Loudoun County Public Schools, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal firm representing the teacher.
In the ruling, Plowman called the district's suspension of Cross "unnecessary and vindictive."
Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, filed a lawsuit against the district last week after he was placed on administrative leave and barred from school property following a speech he gave at a school board meeting.
During the speech, Cross cited his Christian faith in declaring he refused to "lie" to his students and "defile" God by affirming that "a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa," as would be required by a pair of new "gender-expansive" district rules.
The policies require all district staff to use a student's preferred gender pronouns and permitted transgender students to participate in activities consistent with their gender identity, rather than their biological sex.
In a tweet following the court ruling, ADF called the news "massive victory for free speech."
ADF founder and CEO Michael Farris added in a statement: "Nobody should be punished for expressing concern about a proposed government policy, especially when the government invites comment on that policy. 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."
The district had argued that it wasn't Cross' speech that led to his suspension; rather, it was the fact that his speech supposedly caused a disruption at the school.
But upon investigating the matter, the court found minimal evidence to back up the district's claim, noting that just six parents called into the district airing grievances.
Besides, the court ruled, Cross' speech was constitutionally protected because he was "speaking as a citizen, not in his official capacity" and "during non-working hours" at "a forum where public comment was invited."
"It is further apparent that the subject matter upon which the Plaintiff spoke can only be described as a 'matter of public concern,'" Plowman wrote.
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