On October 13, 2021, the ACLU of Virginia filed an amicus brief in the Loudoun County Circuit Court on behalf of ACLU Virginia, ACLU, Equality Virginia, Equality Loudoun, Side By Side, and He She Ze and We.
The brief filed opposes an emergency petition and is a preliminary injunction request filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of Mr. Cross and his fellow plaintiff.
Earlier this year, Byron Tanner Cross expressed that he would not comply with Policy 8040 publicly in a school board meeting on May 5, 2021. The Loudoun County School Board adopted a policy that sought protection for members of the LGBTQ+ in Loudoun County schools.
“My name is Tanner Cross. And I am speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria. 60 Minutes, this past Sunday, interviewed over 30 young people who transitioned. But they felt led astray because lack of pushback, or how easy it was to make physical changes to their bodies in just 3 months. They are now de-transitioning. It is not my intention to hurt anyone. But there are certain truths that we must face when ready. We condemn school policies like 8040 and 8035 because it will damage children, defile the holy image of God. I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences. I’m a teacher but I serve God first. And I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it is against my religion. It’s lying to a child. It’s abuse to a child. And it’s sinning against our God,” said Mr. Cross during the meeting.
The policy “Rights of Transgender Students and Gender Expansive Students” (“transgender policy”) will allow students to use their preferred gender pronouns, use a name different from their legal name, use a name different from their biological name, require staff to address them in desired pronouns and use school facilities and participate in extracurricular activities consistent with their gender.
Mr. Loudoun, a Physical education teacher at Loudoun, felt that he could not comply with this Policy, choosing not to refer to students with their gender-affirming pronouns, because it was against his faith and that it was “lying” to the children—students in the school he taught at. And also arguing that the Policy violated his freedom of speech rights.
Policy 8040 contained provisions that required teachers to use gender-affirming pronouns based on their importance to the mental health and well-being of trans and gender-expansive children.
Consequently, after he refused to comply with this Policy, Mr. Cross was put on administrative leave by the Loudoun County School Board. A move that he challenged by suing the school board demanding that he be given his job back. He was temporarily reinstated to his position, but the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld the reinstatement in August.
In what might have been a victory for Mr. Cross has seen the case back in Loudoun County Circuit Court with two additional plaintiffs, Kimberly Wright and Monica Gill—the Policy being passed during Mr. Cross’s suspension is being challenged.
Teachers in the Loudoun County School System may not agree with Policy 8040 but are required not to violate it as K-12 teachers. The Policy necessitates equal treatment of all students. It protects trans and gender-expansive students from discriminatory practices that may negatively affect gender-dysphoric students and even harm their social-economic development during critical development years.
The Policy, therefore, will enable children to focus on their education without added stress from discriminatory practices such as the refusal of staff to use gender-affirming pronouns.