Virginia Teacher Placed on Leave After Saying He Won’t Call Students by Their Preferred Pronouns

May 30, 2021 Updated: May 30, 2021

An elementary school teacher in Loudoun County, Virginia, was placed on administrative leave after objecting to his school district’s proposed policy about pronouns, according to a report.

Byron “Tanner” Cross, who teaches physical education at Leesburg Elementary School in Loudoun County Public Schools, was placed on leave after he spoke against a proposed rule that would require teachers and staff to address students by their preferred gender-identity pronouns, according to the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

The policy, according to the district’s website, says that “LCPS staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student’s permanent educational record.”

Cross addressed LCPS school board on May 25 during a public meeting in which the proposal was discussed, saying he “will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl, and vice versa,” because that would violate his Christian beliefs.

“It’s not my intention to hurt anyone, but there are certain truths that we must face when ready,” Cross told the board members. “We condemn school policies [that] would damage children, defile the holy image of God.”

“I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences,” he continued. “I am 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. It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”

In a May 27 email sent to parents, Leesburg Elementary Principal Shawn Lacy said Cross “is on leave beginning this morning,” but didn’t specify who made the decision or why.

“I wanted you to know this because it may affect your student’s school routine. Because this involves a personnel matter, I can offer no further information,” the email read, reported Loudoun Times-Mirror.

Loudoun County, which is home to some of the nation’s top-achieving public schools, gained national attention over the past months as the “ground zero” in a fight between parents and school districts seeking to promote “woke” progressivism such as critical race theory (CRT)—an ideology rooted in Marxist class struggle but with an emphasis on race, with the goal of dismantling all social institutions it deems inherently racist.

The school district made headlines in March when a Facebook group of current and former LCPS teachers created a blacklist of parents and teachers who expressed concern about elements of CRT being incorporated into classrooms. According to the Daily Wire, which first reported on the matter, the group members were encouraged to “infiltrate” the anti-CRT groups, to use “hackers” to silence their communications, and to “expose these people publicly.”

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