Aug 31, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Va. Supreme Court sides with teacher who refused to use transgender students' pronouns

A teacher stands in front of a whiteboard raising her hand as she speaks to young students in a brightly lit classroom.

Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

The Virginia Supreme Court this week upheld a lower court's ruling that reinstated a Loudoun County teacher who was suspended for refusing to use the preferred names and pronouns of transgender students.

The big picture: The judges were sympathetic Monday to physical education teacher Tanner Cross, who cited religious opposition to drafted school policy requiring staffers to use students' chosen names and pronouns.

Catch up quick: In May, Loudoun County Public Schools put Cross on paid leave after he voiced opposition to the policy at a school board meeting. Cross sued the district, arguing that it violated his rights to free speech and religious freedom.

  • In June, a circuit judge found that the school district had taken "an unconstitutional action" and that Cross should be immediately reinstated while the legal case continued. Loudoun County appealed to the state's highest court.

Worth noting: Cross' suit was brought by lawyers with the conservative advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, which pursues lawsuits that challenge the rights of transgender people.

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