The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that a Christian school teacher be reinstated after disagreeing with a new policy inclusive of transgender individuals.
In Loudon County, VA, the school board passed a policy that allows students to use restrooms, locker rooms and compete in sports based on the gender they identify as, rather than their biological sex. The rules themselves have been in development for several months, leading to at least one teacher resigning over a disagreement with the policy.
Another teacher, Tanner Cross, was suspended from his role after stating at a school board meeting that his Christian beliefs would not allow him to address students by their preferred pronouns due to that being considered a deceptive act. Cross later sued Loudon County Public School, arguing that the suspension violated his First Amendment free speech rights, with the judge favoring his argumentation in court.
Now the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Cross, upholding the earlier court decision, which halted Cross's suspension. The Supreme Court pointed to a recent case involving Cross' legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, stating that "the Sixth Circuit emphatically held that a university professor stated viable free speech and free exercise claims based on his university's disciplining him for refusing, based on his Christian faith, to use a student's preferred pronouns."
"Teachers shouldn't be forced to promote ideologies that are harmful to their students and that they believe are false, nor should they be silenced for commenting at a public meeting," said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom in a pre-written statement. "The lower court's decision was a well-reasoned application of the facts to clearly established law, as the Virginia Supreme Court found.
However, Cross is not the only teacher now being affected by the changes in policy. With recent amendments to Loudon County school policy, ADF has decided to "amend our lawsuit to challenge that policy on behalf of multiple faculty members. Public employees cannot be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep a job".