Loudoun County Public Schools announced Friday it will appeal the June 8 Circuit Court decision ordering the reinstatement of Leesburg Elementary physical education teacher Byron Tanner Cross.
According to the statement, the school division disagrees with Judge James E. Plowman’s decision to issue an injunction in the case. It is appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Cross was placed on leave two days after he spoke at a School Board meeting to oppose a draft policy protecting transgender students. He said he opposed the proposed policies based on his religious beliefs, and would not use transgender students’ preferred pronouns.
School administrators said Leesburg Elementary School and the division have experienced significant disruption since that May 25 meeting, with students and parents at Leesburg Elementary expressing “fear, hurt and disappointment about coming to school.”
The proposed policy is intended to comply with new state requirements. In the statement, the school division said addressing concerns of transgender students is paramount its 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,” the statement concluded.
Cross’ attorney, Tyson Langhofer of the Center of Academic Freedom with Alliance Defending Freedom, said he remains optimistic that the courts will rule in Cross’ favor.
“Judge Plowman’s opinion ordering Tanner’s reinstatement was a well-reasoned application of these facts to clear-established law,” said Langhofer.