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A Virginia school district that suspended a teacher for refusing to refer to transgender students by their preferred pronouns said Friday it will appeal a judge’s decision to reinstate him, according to a report.
Loudoun County Public Schools plans to take the legal battle to the state’s Supreme Court after federal judge James Plowman ruled that Leesburg Elementary School gym teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross can go back to work.
In a statement, the district said it “disagrees with the Circuit Court’s decision to issue the injunction, and is appealing this ruling to the Supreme Court of Virginia.”
“[The school] experienced – and continue to experience – significant disruption since the May 25 School Board meeting during which Cross addressed the board. Many students and parents at Leesburg Elementary have expressed fear, hurt and disappointment about coming to school,” the statement continues.
“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.”
Plowman granted Cross a temporary injunction in the case Tuesday, saying the teacher’s first amendment rights outweigh the school’s concerns that his comments at a school board meeting last month were disruptive.
Cross sparked outrage at the meeting when he wouldn’t affirm that a “biological boy can be a girl and vice versa” and was later suspended from the job.
But the judge also criticized the district for placing Cross on leave just three weeks before the end of the school year, calling it “unnecessary and vindictive.”
On Friday, a lawyer representing Cross said he’s confident the judge’s ruling won’t be shot down upon appeal.
“Judge Plowman’s opinion ordering Tanner’s reinstatement was a well-reasoned application of these facts to clearly-established law,” Tyson Langhofer, Sr. Counsel & Director of the Center for Academic Freedom with Alliance Defending Freedom told FOX News. “We are confident that, if the Virginia Supreme Court hears the appeal, it will affirm the circuit court’s decision.”
Cross, who is an outspoken Christian, caused a stir during the public school board meeting when he spoke out about its policy to use a child’s preferred pronoun last month.
“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’s against my religion,” he said at the meeting. “It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”
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