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Virginia Supreme Court upholds reinstatement of LCPS teacher suspended over comments on transgender policy

Gym teacher Tanner Cross made national headlines after making comments against LCPS' transgender policy.

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — CORRECTION: A previous version of this story listed Tanner Cross as fired. Cross was placed on leave with pay, not fired. 

The Supreme Court of Virginia will uphold the preliminary decision to reinstate a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) teacher who was suspended after speaking out about the school district's transgender policy at a school board meeting, according to court documents released Monday.

This means Loudoun County Public School officials must give Tanner Cross his job back while the main trial continues. And the school district must remove the ban of prohibiting him from school property and events until Dec. 31, 2021, court documents state.

Cross made national headlines after making comments against the transgender policy, which turned his speech viral:

"My name is Tanner Cross, and I'm speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria. 60 Minutes this past Sunday interviewed over 30 young people who transitioned, but they felt lead astray, because 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 we must face when ready. We condemn school policies like 8040 and 8035, because it will 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. 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. It's lying to a child. It's abuse to a child. And, it's sinning against our God."

Cross was then put on administrative leave by LCPS.

The Alliance Defending Freedom wrote to LCPS on Cross' behalf, requesting he be taken off leave and the school system refused. ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit on his behalf alleging that the school board "violated the Virginia Constitution when it punished Cross by retaliating against him for expressing his beliefs in a public forum, and also violated his free exercise of religion by discriminating against his religious beliefs."

RELATED: Teacher sues LCPS after being placed on leave over comments about gender identity policy

Cross was granted reinstatement by a judge to assume his prior position. The judge ruled that the school district's decision was "unconstitutional."

But days after the judge's ruling, LCPS appealed the decision and vowed to take the case to the Virginia Supreme Court. This then led to the full decision that was ultimately upheld Monday by the Supreme Court of Virginia.

RELATED: Loudoun County Public Schools appeals decision to reinstate teacher after comments about transgender students

The case has forced some to take sides in the debate.

Equality Loudoun has come out in support of transgender students and is worried about the message being sent by those who side with Cross.

"When it comes from the children that this is what they’d like to be called and this is what makes them feel most safe and most belonging in their school, it’s really a matter of are we looking out for our kids," said Nicholas Gothard. "What we need to be focused on is that the school systems ought to be affirming and safe places for our trans students.” 

Others, however, have come to the defense of Cross.

Those who spoke to WUSA 9 believed the school district went too far in punishing Cross and believed his free speech rights were violated.

"He wasn’t being unkind to anyone. He wasn’t attacking anyone. He wasn’t doing anything other than speaking his principles and his beliefs," said Rosie Oakley of Stand Up Virginia. "It speaks to the fact that politics has entered the classroom and entered the school systems.”

WUSA9 reached out to LCPS on Tuesday and spokesman Wayde Byard said, "the school district has no comment at this time."

A trial challenging the policy is scheduled for Sept. 7 and 8, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom.

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