Loudoun Co. judge to consider stopping enforcement of school transgender policy during lawsuit

A Loudoun County Circuit Court judge heard arguments Monday over whether to immediately stop enforcement of the Northern Virginia school district’s policy expanding rights of transgender students.

Monday’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction is part of the lawsuit filed by three county public schoolteachers: Tanner Cross, Monica Gill and Kim Wright.

The plaintiffs asked the judge to immediately stop enforcement of the new policy, which requires staff and students to address students — including transgender and gender expansive students — by their preferred pronouns, before the civil trial is held.

Judge James Plowman’s decision is expected after Thanksgiving.

Attorneys for the teachers said the policy makes them speak words they believe are false and harmful, and are in violation of their religious beliefs.

Attorneys for the Loudoun County School Board argued the rule applies to curricular speech which is not protected free speech and it only applies to teachers in their official capacity.

The policy also allows transgender student athletes to participate on teams based on their gender identity, and to use bathroom and locker rooms based on their gender identity.

Cross was put on paid administrative leave after criticizing a then-proposed transgender policy in May. He was reinstated after a judge ruled the suspension as likely unconstitutional. School officials then appealed the judge’s ruling to the Virginia Supreme Court.

In August, Virginia’s Supreme Court sided with the lower court that Cross’ constitutional right to free speech had been violated when he was penalized for what he said at a school board meeting.

On Monday, the Loudoun County School Board agreed to a settlement with Cross.

The settlement prohibits the board from punishing Cross further, agreeing to remove any reference to his suspension in his personnel file and paying $20,000 toward Cross’ legal fees, according to a news release from the group Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian-based legal organization advocating protections of religious freedom.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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