The Loudoun County Circuit Court ordered Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) to reinstate teacher Tanner Cross in a decision Tuesday. Cross is suing the Loudoun County School Board after he spoke at a school board meeting saying he would not use students’ preferred pronouns.
On Friday, the case had a lengthy hearing in the court where the defendants asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit; Cross’ team asked the court to issue a temporary injunction to allow him to return to work while the case proceeds.
Cross was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who argued that he was retaliating against after exercising his rights to free speech. The LCPS defense argued that Cross’ speech at the meeting was disruptive, citing six emails from five families asking that Cross not teach their students. In the decision, Judge James Plowman said the magnitude of parental complaints was minimal given an approximate Leesburg Elementary School size of 400-500 students. Plowman also said that Cross’ lawsuit is likely to succeed based on arguments that his suspension was retaliatory and violated Cross’ First Amendment rights.
“The Court finds that the Plaintiff’s speech and religious content are central to the determination made by the Defendants to suspend Plaintiff’s employment,” Plowman concluded. “Defendants shall immediately reinstate the Plaintiff to his position as it was prior to the issuance of his suspension and remove the ban that was placed upon him from all buildings and grounds of [LCPS].”
After the decision, ADF President Michael Farris said in a press release, “Nobody should be punished for expressing concern about a proposed government policy, especially when the government invites comment on that policy. For that reason, we are pleased at the court’s decision to halt Loudoun County Public Schools’ retaliation against Tanner Cross while his lawsuit continues.”
Farris said, “Educators are just like everybody else—they have ideas and opinions that they should be free to express. Advocating for solutions they believe in should not cost them their jobs.”
A full hearing on the lawsuit has not been scheduled yet.
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