A Christian gym teacher in Virginia has been put on leave for refusing to respect a transgender student’s pronouns. Byron “Tanner” Cross spoke up about the suspension at a meeting for Loudoun County Public Schools to discuss the district’s “Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students” policy. There, the Leesburg Elementary teacher claimed he was “speaking out of love for those who are suffering from gender dysphoria” by insisting that using the student’s pronouns was tantamount to “sinning against God.”
- Part of his argument was based on an episode of 60 Minutes. The episode in question highlighted a trans person who decided to “de-transition” after making a hasty decision to change their gender. While this is an extremely complicated topic and one that’s severely misrepresented in the media, Cross pressed forward, saying, “It’s not my intention to hurt anyone, but there are certain truths that we must face when ready.”
- Cross takes umbrage with the concept of being transgender and won’t “lie” to his students about it. As a Christian, Cross believes that biological sex at birth is set for life and that to say otherwise to his students would be sacrilegious. “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,” he told the board. “It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”
- He’s now been placed on paid administrative leave. The board confirmed to the Loudoun Times-Mirror that Cross was temporarily removed from his post and is on paid leave. Parents have been emailed about the decision. “Because this involves a personnel matter, I can offer no further information,” Leesburg Elementary principal Shawn Lacy wrote, according to the paper.
- Cross’s wife has a serious problem with his suspension. According to a Facebook post made by Angela Cross, she believes her husband is being punished 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 in a now-deleted post. “We spoke out first and foremost to protect the children and also to defend the first amendment rights of teachers and staff.”
- Cross is entitled to object to the policy, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to follow it. The district’s policy states that “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.” His personal beliefs may not jive with that, but that doesn’t mean he can do whatever he wants. The school is completely justified in removing him from his position if he doesn’t feel like he can uphold the standards required of it.