The ACLU of Virginia and partner groups filed an amicus brief in Circuit Court to oppose the emergency petition filed on behalf of Byron “Tanner” Cross, the teacher who was placed on leave after speaking out against the district’s proposed transgender student protections, and his other plaintiffs.
The ACLU is joined on the brief by Equality Virginia, Equality Loudoun, Side By Side, and He She Ze and We.
“Treating students consistently with their gender identity is crucial for their mental health and wellbeing, has been shown to reduce the amount of harassment they face in school, and in turn improves their academic performance,” the brief reads.
Cross told the board during its May 25 meeting that complying with the then-proposed Policy 8040, which provides protections and rights for transgender and gender expansive students, would violate his Christian faith. His remarks shocked members of the community at Leesburg Elementary School, where Cross teaches physical education. He was placed on leave on May 27, and sued for his reinstatement. He was awarded an emergency injunction to return to his position, which the school district appealed and lost in the state supreme court. Two other teachers in the district joined the case, and are being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents clients to protect conservative Christian values. It is labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for views such as supporting criminalizing sexual acts between LGBT adults, and working to preserve laws mandating sterilization of transgender people in other countries.
“While the teachers may disagree with the policy, they do not have the right to violate it in their capacity as K-12 teachers in the Loudoun County school system,” the brief says.
During the May 28 meeting, Cross cited a 60 Minutes special that continued claims that have largely been debunked, including that most young trans children eventually revert to their born genders.
“We know that discriminatory practices, such as the refusal to use a student’s gender-affirming pronouns, can exacerbate gender dysphoria and harm socio-emotional development during critical childhood years. Policy 8040 ensures that trans and non-binary students can focus on their education without the added stigmatization, stress and anxiety of being misgendered by their teachers,” the brief says.
The case is set for argument of pretrial motions Nov. 5. A trial on the injection is scheduled for Nov. 8.