A Virginia teacher put on administrative leave for speaking out against school policies requiring teachers to use preferred pronouns to address students is gearing up for a fight on constitutional grounds of freedom of speech and religious liberty.
"Public schools have no business compelling teachers to express ideological beliefs that they don't hold, but it's beyond the pale to suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting, which is what such meetings are designed for," attorney Tyson Langhofer, representing Byron "Tanner" Cross, said in a statement, according to The Hill.
"This isn't just about a pronoun; this is about endorsing an ideology. The school favors certain beliefs, and it wants to force Tanner to cry uncle and endorse them as well. That's neither legal nor constitutional, and neither was the school's move to place Tanner on leave."
Cross spoke out during the public comments section of a May 25 board meeting.
"I am speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria," he said, according to the report. "I love all 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 is sinning against our God."
The Leesburg Elementary School physical education teacher was placed on administrative leave two days later and the letter claimed he was under investigation for having "engaged in conduct that has had a disruptive impact on the operations" of the school.
A Loudoun County Public Schools spokesperson confirmed Cross was placed on leave, but refused any further comment, while the lawyer is demanding the suspension be lifted.
The lawyer's constitutional argument is raised amid a remaking of American culture, particularly in education systems seeking to address sensitive issues such as sexuality among children, and repeated efforts in American institutions and Big Tech to censor conservative speech and infringe on constitutionally protected rights, including religious liberty.
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