A Virginia teacher has been placed on leave following his refusal to refer to transgender and gender non-conforming students by their preferred personal pronouns due to his professed Christian belief system, it was reported Friday.
Gym teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross spoke out against the use of preferred personal pronouns on Tuesday during a “Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students” meeting organized by Loudon County Public Schools.
“My name is Tanner Cross and I am speaking out of love for those who are suffering from gender dysphoria,” the Leesburg Elementary School instructor said in a video of the meeting.
Continuing, he referred to a recent television program about teens who are “de-transitioning” after they claim to have rushed their decisions.
“I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences,” Cross said.
“I’m a teacher, but I serve God first, and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion,” he continued. “It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”
Loudon County Public Schools told the Loudon Times-Mirror on Friday that they had placed Cross on paid leave, with parents notified of the decision on Thursday.
“Because this involves a personnel matter, I can offer no further information,” Leesburg Elementary principal Shawn Lacy wrote.
In the school district’s draft policy on trans and gender-expansive students’ rights, the policy notes that “LCPS staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence.”
On Friday, the P.E. teacher’s wife Angela Cross wrote on Facebook that he was placed on leave for “speaking out.”
“As Americans, we believe that every American has the right to their beliefs, but NO AMERICAN HAS THE RIGHT TO IMPOSE THEIR BELIEFS ON OTHERS,” she wrote.
“We spoke out first and foremost to protect the children and also to defend the first amendment rights of teachers and staff,” she continued.
“In answer to the many question of what you can do to help, first please stand with us in truth and with love on God’s word,” she added.
In recent years, public schools and organizations have been increasingly sensitive to people’s preferred pronouns as a means to show proper respect and create an inclusive environment, rather than using pronouns that are not how people want to be known.
This has included inquiring about people’s pronouns and taking measures to not misidentify them and cause them to feel dismissed, alienated, disrespected or hurt.
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