Loudoun Co. teacher placed on leave after opposing pronoun use for transgender students

A Loudoun County, Virginia, teacher has been placed on administrative leave after saying he won’t address transgender students by their preferred pronouns.

Leesburg Elementary School teacher Byron Tanner Cross told the county’s school board that the use of preferred gender pronouns for transgender students was against his religion during the board’s Tuesday meeting.

“I’m a teacher, but I serve God first,” Cross said. “I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion. It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child and it’s sinning against our God.”

The school system confirmed to WTOP Sunday that Cross had been placed on leave.

“Mr. Cross is on paid administrative leave. Because of state and federal law regarding personnel files, this is the only comment that I can make at this time,” said Wayde B. Byard, a spokesman for Loudoun County Public Schools.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal organization, said it sent a letter to Loudoun County Public Schools on Friday on behalf of Cross.

“Public schools have no business compelling teachers to express ideological beliefs that they don’t hold,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “This isn’t just about a pronoun; LCPS wants to compel teachers to endorse and advance an ideology. LCPS favors certain beliefs, and it wants to force Tanner to cry uncle and endorse them as well. It’s neither legal nor constitutional, and neither was the school’s move to place Tanner on leave.”

The school system responded to the letter with an email Friday that said it would not reinstate Cross, according to ADF.

During his comments to the board, Cross was criticizing the school system’s new draft policy, “Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students.”

According to draft policy 8040, “LCPS staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence.”

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Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

Glynis Kazanjian

Glynis Kazanjian has been a freelance writer covering Maryland politics and government on the local, state and federal levels for the last 11 years. Her work is published in Maryland Matters, the Baltimore Post Examiner, Bethesda Beat and Md. Reporter. She has also worked as a true crime researcher.

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