Parents criticize school board over suspension of teacher who opposed policy on trans students

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Parents and staff expressed their outrage to their school board over the suspension of a Virginia teacher who objected to two policies affecting transgender students because he said they went against his religion.

Tensions were high as parents showed their support for PE teacher Byron ‘Tanner’ Cross during a Loudon County Public School board meeting on Tuesday after he was suspended from Leesburg Elementary two weeks ago after a controversial speech at a school board meeting.

Many who took to the podium said Cross’s suspension was a First Amendment matter, including mother of three Rachel Pisani, who asked, ‘Where is your respect for our freedom of speech?’

Jeremy Wright, (pictured) a teacher at the school who previously called the school board fascists, told the school board to brush up on their knowledge of the First Amendment

Jeremy Wright, (pictured) a teacher at the school who previously called the school board fascists, told the school board to brush up on their knowledge of the First Amendment

Tensions ran high during a Loudon County Public School board meeting on Tuesday, as parents expressed concern over the suspension of PE teacher Byron 'Tanner' Cross.

Tensions ran high during a Loudon County Public School board meeting on Tuesday, as parents expressed concern over the suspension of PE teacher Byron ‘Tanner’ Cross.

Parents and staff took to the stage at a Loudon County Public School board meeting to express their frustrations with the school board

Parents and staff took to the stage at a Loudon County Public School board meeting to express their frustrations with the school board

“When I saw a teacher express an opinion and was suspended for expressing his religious beliefs, I could no longer keep silent,” she said. When did it become acceptable to be tolerant only when someone expresses a point of view we agree with? When did it become appropriate to silence those who hold Christian, Biblical views just because you don’t?’

“When was it appropriate to allow the school board – I don’t know who you think you are – but it is not appropriate, it is not allowed to silence, bully or take down our minds pointing,” she added.

Pisani’s microphone was cut off due to time constraints, but she continued to speak and received loud applause from other attendees, Fox News reported.

Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan asked the parents to use jazz hands, a request that was repeatedly denied, sparking tension and multiple memories.

Jeremy Wright, a teacher at the school who previously called the school board fascists, echoed Pisani’s concerns about free speech.

Wright dramatically left a copy of the First Amendment on stage for the members of “Chardonnay Antifa,” his apparent nickname for the board.

“Here’s your assignment with a copy of the First Amendment attached,” Wright said, holding up a packet of paper. “I’ll leave it at this and I hope you learn something from it.”

Fellow teacher Monica Gill told the board that Cross’s suspension resembled “totalitarianism, not the Constitution.”

“First of all, I’m a Christian,” Gill said. ‘What’s the most important? We live in truth, not lies. We look at character, not skin color. We love our lord and we love others. Know this – We won’t budge. We won’t let you have our souls or the souls of our children.’

One woman told the board: ‘Even if you’re threatened with being fired for simply speaking your mind, it creates a culture of fear and silence – and this doesn’t help anyone on either side of the aisle.’

Cross was suspended from Leesburg Elementary after speaking out at a school board meeting against policies that would confirm the identities of transgender students

Cross was suspended from Leesburg Elementary after speaking out at a school board meeting against policies that would confirm the identities of transgender students

Cross is pictured with his wife.  She said they were grateful for the support he received

Cross is pictured with his wife. She said they were grateful for the support he got

The school district administration building.  They have not responded to Tuesday's ruling

The school district administration building. They have not responded to Tuesday’s ruling

Cross was suspended for thoughts expressed while arguing about two public school board policies: one that requires teachers to use the pronouns a transgender child identifies with, and one that allows transgender children to participate in sports with the gender they use. identify oneself. The second also allows children to use the locker room and bathroom of the gender they identify with.

Cross said in his speech that the policies “contaminate the sacred image of God” and involve child abuse. He also quoted a recent 60 Minutes in which Leslie Stahl interviewed a handful of young people who had switched within months of seeking treatment and regretted it.

During the speech, he told the school board that he “would not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it is against my religion. It lies to a child, it is abuse of a child and it sins against our God.” .”

He was then suspended with about three weeks left of the school year and the school board said it was investigating his comments.

On Tuesday, Twelfth District Judge James E. Plowman ordered the school district to reinstate Cross’s job.

“Defendants will immediately reinstate the plaintiff in his position as he was before the issuance of his suspension and remove the prohibition imposed on him from all buildings and grounds of Loudoun County Public Schools,” a letter from Plowman read.

Loudoun County Public Schools did not comment on the ruling, but Alliance Defending Freedom – which Cross represented – celebrated the decision, tweeting that it was a “huge victory for free speech.”

“No one should be penalized for expressing concern about a proposed government policy, especially when the government invites comment on that policy,” ADF president and CEO Michael Farris added to Fox News.

“For that reason, we welcome the court’s decision to stop Loudoun County Public Schools’ retaliation against Tanner Cross while his lawsuit continues. Educators are just like everyone else – they have ideas and opinions that they should express freely. Advocating for solutions they believe in should not cost them their job.’

After the ruling, Cross appeared on America Reports with his attorney to also praise the decision.

“We are so happy,” Cross said during the performance on Tuesday. “There were a lot of tears, a lot of hugs – we’re just glad we recovered and I’m looking forward to going back to Leesburg Elementary.”

Despite much support for Cross, not everyone was against the school board’s decision.

One of the parents went to the stage and asked the responsible adults to stop projecting their fears onto their children.

‘My pronouns are she/her. I’m here today…not just to support our school board’s efforts to improve equality, but to speak directly to our community – asking us to stop making equality a weapon,” she said.

“We all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” she added. “The adults who bully our children need to be reminded that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Stop projecting your fear onto our children. This is not about bathrooms or white discrimination. Hate speech is not free!’

State Representative Jennifer Boyko wore a rainbow pin and mask to the school board meeting and praised the school

“I want to thank you for your commitment to equality and making every child feel loved and valued.” she said.

Loudon County, home to approximately 400,000 people, has become a microcosm of issues that currently divide America – critical race theory, transgender rights, gay rights and freedom of speech.

A lawsuit filed last week contained allegations from parents that the district engaged in racial and facial discrimination with its equity student ambassador program, Fox news reported.

Parents also expressed concern at the meeting that the leader of the district’s Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee (MSAAC) suggested punishing teachers for criticizing equality training.

Some parents were upset about a secret Facebook group called Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County, which has members who allegedly tried to doxx and blacklist opponents of critical race theory, Fox News reported.

Some board members belong to the group, and they have been accused of allowing attempts to intimidate critical opponents of the race theory.

Fox reported that a member of the Facebook group was even censored in connection with her social media activities and stripped of her committee duties.

While the district has denied teaching critical race theory, recent information has raised questions about its role in district decision-making, FOX News reported.

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