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LEESBURG, June 14, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – A Virginia school district has declared it will fight all the way to the state Supreme Court in order to punish a gym teacher for respectfully announcing his refusal to indulge “transgender pronouns” during a school board meeting. 

Loudoun County Public Schools physical education teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross was placed on administrative leave after testifying before a school board meeting that he has only “love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria,” but “will never lie to them regardless of the consequences.”

“I’m a teacher, but I serve God first,” Cross said, “and I will not 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.”

At issue was a draft policy requiring school staff to “use the name and pronoun that correspond to [a student’s] gender identity” at a student or parent’s request, though the policy is not yet in effect.

Following that session, Cross was notified of his suspension “pending an investigation of allegation that [he] engaged in conduct that had a disruptive impact on the operations of Leesburg Elementary School.” As part of the suspension, he was restricted from school district grounds and banned from attending school-sponsored activities and extracurricular activities.

His case was quickly taken up by the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which sent the district a letter notifying them that they were in violation of Cross’s First Amendment rights. Loudoun County Circuit Judge James Plowman agreed, ruling that “vindictive” school officials had failed to show the teacher had caused a disruption and ordering his immediate reinstatement.

But the school district has refused, announcing its intentions to appeal the case to the Virginia Supreme Court, Fox News reports.

“Leesburg Elementary School and Loudoun County Public Schools experienced – and continue to experience – significant disruption since the May 25 School Board meeting during which Cross addressed the board,” the district claimed. “Many students and parents at Leesburg Elementary have expressed fear, hurt and disappointment about coming to school. Addressing those concerns is paramount to the school division's goal to provide a safe, welcoming, and affirming learning environment for all students. While LCPS respects the rights of public-school employees to free speech and free exercise of religion, those rights do not outweigh the rights of students to be educated in a supportive and nurturing environment.”

In response, ADF senior counsel and Center for Academic Freedom director Tyson Langhofer reiterated that “Judge Plowman’s opinion ordering Tanner’s reinstatement was a well-reasoned application of these facts to clearly-established law,” and expressed confidence that, “if the Virginia Supreme Court hears the appeal, it will affirm the circuit court’s decision.”

A range of scientific literature indicates that youth gender confusion usually resolves on its own by adulthood, and indulging it often fails to prevent significant emotional harm up to and including attempted suicide (with or without surgery), because fixating on “gender affirmation” tends to distract from exploring other issues that may be the actual root of a patient’s mental or emotional unrest.

Fox News’s report suggests that, to the extent any “disruption” has occurred in Loudoun County schools, it is the result of the district’s actions, rather than Cross’s: “Tuesday's school board meeting exploded with parents and educators irate at the county for its actions towards Cross. Many complained that LCPS was exceeding its authority and chilling speech. Some educators also spoke in support of Cross and his ideas while others backed the county's position.”