School board members in Loudoun County, Virginia, unanimously approved a professional-conduct policy Tuesday night intended to assure teachers and staff maintain their free speech rights.
The 8-0 vote came after the Virginia Supreme Court ruled against the school system for its suspension of physical education teacher Tanner Cross following his public comments opposing its new policy on transgender student rights.
“I believe there was a lot of concern from teachers that their First Amendment rights were being infringed upon and I think that this draft makes it very clear that those rights are protected,” said Jeff Morse, school board member of the Dulles District.
The new policy said that teachers and staff are expected to support the school system’s equity and nondiscrimination practices.
It also states that no school system policy abridges an employee’s First Amendment right to engage in protected speech.
Some Loudoun County residents who are critical of the school board said the new policy is without merit.
“I don’t think they should have to pass policy for constitutionally-protected rights,” said Joe Mobley. “I’m not a teacher and I’m not in the hot seat here, but they should continue to speak whatever they believe to be true.”
Cross was initially suspended by the school system for publicly stating opposition to orders that teachers use students’ preferred gender pronouns.