Teachers Unite Against Harmful School Policy

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Christian Teachers Unite Against Harmful School Policy in Virginia

Story by Christmas Beeler

School board under fire after students assaulted in Loudoun County, VA

In Virginia, the fight to protect schoolchildren from harmful gender-fluid policies could be seen as a snapshot of the bigger picture nationwide. A tug of war over freedom of speech, new gender policies, parental rights, and student safety has been ongoing in Virginia this year. Christian teachers and parents have taken a stand—in the courts and at the polls.

In early November, Virginians elected a conservative governor who supports parental involvement in education. Two weeks later, a county court prohibited school officials from future retaliation against a teacher for speaking against a new gender-fluid policy.

The ruling in favor of Tanner Cross—who attends Cornerstone Chapel, a Calvary Chapel in Leesburg, VA—clears his record, pays $20,000 in court costs, and secures permanent protection of his freedom of speech from the Loudoun County School Board (LCSB).

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Tanner Cross speaks before a group. The elementary school P.E. teacher found himself in the center of controversy last May after he took a stand for biblical truth and religious freedom, opposing school board policies he believes are harmful to children. Photo courtesy of Tanner Cross

Teachers’ Concerns

Tanner’s story went viral after he was suspended for voicing his concerns at a May 25 public school board meeting: “I am speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria. 60 Minutes (story here) this past Sunday interviewed over 30 young people who transitioned [to another gender]. But they felt led astray because of lack of pushback, or how easy it was to make physical changes to their bodies in just three months. They are now de-transitioning. It is not my intention to hurt anyone. But there are certain truths that we must face,” he said.

“We condemn school policies like 8040 … because it will damage children, defile the holy image of God.” Tanner continued, “I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences. 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 is against my religion. It’s lying to a child. It’s abuse to a child. And it’s sinning against our God.”

Less than 48 hours later, school officials suspended Tanner for those statements. Non-profit legal defense group Alliance Defending Freedom stepped in, asking the school to reinstate the Christian teacher. The school board refused, and the case went all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court, which found that the Loudoun County School Board’s (LCSB) actions were “unnecessarily extreme and vindictive.”

 

Fighting Harmful Ideologies

Christian teachers Kim Wright and Monica Gill—who also wrote an article for The Federalist in April about how critical race theory is causing division at Loudoun County schools—added their names to the ongoing lawsuit, seeking to overturn the new policy. In a recent article, ADF cited the testimony of psychologist Dr. Stephen B. Levine, that gender-fluid messages can put a child “at risk of a wide range of long-term or even life-long harms” including “sterilization … associated regret and sense of loss … inability to form healthy romantic relationships and … elevated mental health risks.”

That’s one reason why teachers are still fighting policy 8040. “While we are very pleased that Tanner will be able to keep serving his students in light of this settlement, the concerns expressed in our ongoing lawsuit challenging the district’s policy remain,” said Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom.

Langhofer added, “Public employees cannot be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep a job. Freedom—of speech and religious exercise—includes the freedom not to speak messages against our core beliefs. That’s why our lawsuit asks the court to protect the constitutional rights of our clients by immediately halting enforcement of this harmful school district policy.”

 

Students Assaulted

Sadly, fears that the policy could harm students may have already proven true—at least in the eyes of many angry parents. Three days after Tanner Cross publicly explained his concerns about gender-fluid policies, a 14-year-old male student wearing a skirt sexually assaulted a teenage girl in the ladies’ bathroom at a Loudoun County high school.

At a June 22 LCSB meeting, when publicly questioned, school officials denied that any sexual assaults had taken place in locker rooms or bathrooms; when the crowd grew agitated, the board dismissed the meeting early. The first victim’s father was handcuffed and dragged out as the victim’s mother told the crowd, “My child was raped in school!” That mother said she plans to press charges against LCSB.

Despite parent concerns, in August school officials voted to instate Policy 8040, which will not only “require school staff to use students’ chosen name and gender pronouns” but also “allow students to use school facilities and participate in extra-curricular activities consistent with their chosen gender identity”—as summarized by the courts.

Less than five months after the first crime, the same teen assaulted another girl in an empty classroom on October 7. Outraged students held a walk-out to protest LCSB’s handling of the assaults. In November, the now 15-year-old male plead “no contest” to charges of sexual assault, abduction, and sexual battery.

Virginia Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin recounted that he adopted the motto “Parents Matter” in response to his opponent's assertion that parents had no right to interfere with school policies. Youngkin reported that concerned parents had begged him to protect their children in school.

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Three Christian teachers in Loudoun County, VA, are standing against gender-fluid policies that they feel are harmful to children. From left to right: Middle school English teacher Kim Wright, elementary P.E. teacher Tanner Cross, and high school history teacher Monica Gill. The three educators are plaintiffs in a lawsuit in Loudoun County Circuit Court. Photo courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom

Standing Together in Battle

At Cornerstone Chapel, Pastor Gary Hamrick encouraged Tanner and his wife, and the flock offered support through prayer, petitions, and cards of encouragement. Citing the apostle Peter’s response when forbidden to preach the Gospel, Gary reflected, “We are living in a day when standing for the Lord is being challenged. In Acts 5:29 they said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men,’ and that is what Tanner and others are doing … [obeying] the Lord rather than man.”

As the world’s moral code continues to deteriorate, Gary related, “I don’t think it’s going to get easier. Living out our faith will get more challenging until Jesus returns. And we must continue to run the race with perseverance and fight the good fight of our faith.”

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12

In an online interview with Joe Mobley, Monica urged other Christians: “This is not a time to sit on the sidelines; we all need to do our part … God has gifted you in some way to be part of expanding His kingdom. You have to get in there and start.” Now is a critical time for believers to take a stand for truth and for children, she added. In the wake of the November victory, ADF is seeking to eradicate the new LCSB policy 8040.

 

Showing Love and Respect

Asked last week on FOX News how he will treat transgender students, Tanner stated, “I had one student ask me to call them by a name, and I decided to do that. … I will call any student by their preferred name, but I can’t say things that are untrue, such as untrue pronouns. I can’t say anything that is harmful or lying to a child. I will continue to create an environment where there is always dignity, respect, and loving care to the students.” He hopes his victory will embolden other teachers to “advocate for their students.”

                  

 

Click to learn more about  Alliance Defending Freedom
                  

 

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2021 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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