A Virginia school district has agreed to permanently reinstate a physical-education teacher who had been suspended for refusing to refer to transgender students by their preferred pronouns.
“Just today, the court issued a final order permanently prohibiting the Loudoun County Public School Board from punishing me for freely expressing my views,” Byron “Tanner” Cross told reporters after the settlement Monday, Fox News reported.
“I can now confidently continue teaching at Leesburg Elementary School without fear of punishment for expressing my views,” he added.
In June, the district said it would appeal a judge’s decision to reinstate Cross and take the fight to the state’s Supreme Court after federal Judge James Plowman ruled that the Leesburg Elementary School gym teacher could go back to work.
Cross, an outspoken Christian, had sparked outrage at a school meeting on May 25, when he spoke out against proposed Policy 8040 and wouldn’t affirm that a “biological boy can be a girl and vice versa” and was later suspended from the job.
The policy would require teachers to use a child’s preferred gender pronouns, to open activities to students according to their gender identity, to allow the kids access to facilities corresponding to gender identity and to be trained on matters related to LGBTQ+ students.
“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 time. “It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”
Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative legal group representing Cross, said in a statement Monday: “We are very pleased that Tanner will be able to keep serving his students in light of this settlement,” according to Fox News.
Meanwhile, Cross and other teachers plan to continue their challenge to Policy 8040 in court, where Cross had previously been granted temporary injunctions forcing the district to reinstate him.
The Alliance Defending Freedom was previously allowed to amend its complaint to add new claims against the policy and to include history teacher Monica Gill and English teacher Kim Wright alongside Cross.
“Freedom of speech and religion includes the freedom not to speak messages contrary to our core beliefs, and public schools shouldn’t require teachers to personally endorse a belief with which they disagree, but that’s exactly what policy 8040 does,” Gill told Fox News on Monday. “It forces teachers to say things that are untrue and harmful to students.”
At the news conference after the settlement, she said: “Words carry meaning. If teachers are forced to use a pronoun for a student that is not in alignment with their biological sex, they are conveying to that student that gender is fluid, and that is not true. That goes against biology, science, and reality.”
A school district spokesman told Fox News that it does not comment on pending litigation. School board members did not respond to the outlet’s request for comment.