Elementary school gym teacher gets job back after being suspended for Christian speech on gender identity policies

LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA- The 12th Judicial Circuit of Virginia has ordered the Loudoun County School Board to immediately reinstate a gym teacher who was placed on administrative leave following his opposition in recent weeks to his school’s new gender identity policies.

On Tuesday, June 8th, the court issued a temporary injunction ordering the school board to immediately reinstate gym teacher, Bryon “Tanner” Cross.

Cross was reportedly suspended after he cited science and Christianity when opposing a draft policy requiring teachers to agree with children’s claim that they are members of the opposite sex. During a school board meeting in May, Cross said, in part:

“I love all 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.”

Cross added:

“It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”

On Tuesday, June 8th, the conservative Christian non-profit group, Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF), posted the following statement on social media:

“Tanner Cross, a Virginia elementary school teacher and ADF client who was suspended for raising concerns to the board about a proposed gender policy, has won a temporary injunction and the judge has ordered his reinstatement. A massive victory for freedom of speech.”

A court opinion by Judge James Plowman states that the Plaintiff (Cross) contends that his suspension was an act of retaliation following his exercise of his rights to free speech in the following ways:

“1) His speech was constitutionally protected, 2) the Defendants’ retaliatory action adversely affected the Plaintiff’s constitutionally protected speech, and 3) there was a casual relationships between the speech and the action.”

Judge Plowman added:

“Whether the Plaintiff’s speech at the School Board meeting was protected is determined by applying the standards set forth in Pickering v. Board of Education. More specifically, was Plaintiff speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern and do Plaintiff’s interests in speaking outweigh Defendants’ in restricting the Plaintiff.”

The judge wrote:

“Here, it is clear the Plaintiff was speaking as a citizen, not in his official capacity. His speech was not conducted at his usual place of employment, occurred during non-working hours and at a forum where public comment was invited. Plaintiff had to abide bu the same process to speak as any other citizen. Although this was not formally conceded by the Defendants’, analysis of this was not argued.”

Judge Plowman continued by saying:

“It is further apparent that the subject matter upon which the Plaintiff spoke was one that can only be described as a ‘matter of public concern.’ The enactment of a school policy as it relates to transgender issues, as well as the expected conduct of staff and students within the public school system, falls squarely within this scope.”

The judge concluded:

“Additionally, Defendants’ referenced related school policies on this same subject matter as well as Virginia statutes and Federal law. Laws and policies enacted by elected legislators, but their very nature, invite political discourse. They are on their face, matters of public, political, and societal interest.”

Judge Plowman went on to say:

“The Court finds that the Plaintiff’s speech and religious content are central to the determination made by the Defendants’ to suspect Plaintiff’s employment. The Court further finds that the weight of the evidence and the totality of the circumstances, clearly show that the four prongs for issuance of temporary injunction have been satisfied.”

ADF President and CEO Michael Farris said in a statement:

“Nobody should be punished for expressing concern about a proposed government policy, especially when the government invites comment on that policy. For that reason, we are pleased at the court’s decision to halt Loudoun County Public Schools’ retaliation against Tanner Cross while his lawsuit continues.”

Reportedly, during the hearing on Friday, June 4th, an attorney for the school system said the principal at Leesburg Elementary School had to remove Cross from one of his jobs the next day because he feared backlash from parents and that over the course of 48 hours, five parents asked him to remove their child from Cross’ class.

Cross’ attorney argued that his client’s right under the First Amendment to express his views at the public meeting. Tyson Langhofer said in a statement:

“When LCPS suspended Tanner they crossed a line and that’s why we took them to court.”

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Texas bill could mean charges for parents, doctors who allow kids to undergo ‘gender affirmation’ surgeries

April 15th, 2021

Certain states around the country are creating their own laws when it comes to what is and isn’t allowed in terms of transgender guidelines.

Now, Texas lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it a crime for parents to allow their kids to undergo a gender affirmation surgery.

While some parents think that allowing their children to make life altering decisions, such as gender change, is in their best interest, some lawmakers disagree.

According to the bill, parents who consent to that treatment could be charged with child abuse.

Texas Senate Bill 1646 was heard during a State Affairs Committee Monday. Dozens of people showed up to the State Capitol to testify for and against the bill, FOX 26 reported

One of the individuals to show up was Kai Shappley, a transgender child. 

Shappley spoke during the meeting and said:

“I’ve been having to explain myself since I was three or four years old. ]Texas legislators have been attacking me since Pre-K. I’m in 4th grade now,” 

Shappley continued:

“It’s been very scary and overwhelming. It makes me sad that some politicians use trans kids, like me, to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist. God made me. God loves me and God does not make mistakes,” 

If the bill passes, it would make it a crime for kids under the age of 18 to receive any medical procedures, surgeries or certain prescription drugs that would help with gender transition or reassignment.

Kai’s mother, Kimberly Shappley, who is a registered nurse, also spoke out against the bill, stating that such a law would put transgender kids lives at risk for various reasons.

She also stated that this is not the first time a legislative bill has threatened the wellbeing of trans kids. 

Kai’s family is originally from the Houston area and has already moved once to avoid discrimination.

Kimberly Shappley said:

“In 2018, after the dangerous rhetoric of the Texas legislature’s bathroom bill, I moved my family from Pearland to Austin for the safety and well-being of my daughter.

And I don’t want to move my children again but I’m worried that we might have to. If these bills pass, I’ll have to uproot my family and leave for a state with comprehensive, non-discrimination laws,” 

FOX 26 reported that according to the bill’s proposal, parents who consent to transgender treatments could face child abuse charges and potentially risk losing custody of their kid.

Similarly, doctors who agree to perform gender affirmation surgery could risk losing their medical license.

Also advocating against the bill is the Houston-based organization, Doctors For Change. According to reports, they issued a letter to Texas lawmakers, urging them to vote no, arguing that SB 1646 is an intrusion on patient-provider confidentiality.

Areana Quiñones, the Executive Director of Doctors for Change, said: 

“Children who do identify as transgender have higher rates of suicidality and you know being discriminated against this way, means that they and their guardians will likely not seek affirming and compassionate care,” 

Not everyone is against the bill however, and those who are in favor of it are saying that such a major life-altering decision should not be made until adulthood, as children often make decisions they may later regret after gaining life experience. 

https://twitter.com/karma1244/status/1382514387513081858

Kevin Whitt weighed in on this, saying:

“A parent of a child should not be given the right to decide to mutilate a child’s body. A child should not have to live with regret due to a childhood decision made for them, leaving them scarred, mutilated and with PTSD stemming from their gender transition,” 

The bill was filed by State Senator Charles Perry from Lubbock and has been co-sponsored by 12 other Republican lawmakers. Two similar bills will be heard in a house committee later this week. 

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California receives 261 transgender prisoners transfer requests under new law – including 255 to women’s prison

April 6, 2021

CALIFORNIA – 261 California inmates have requested transfers to prisons aligning with their claimed gender identity since Gov. Gavin Newsom signed S.B. 132 into law in September allowing prisoners to choose their gender for prison placement.

S.B. 132 requires California correctional facilities to house prisoners in a “correctional facility designated for men or women based on the individual’s preference.”

255 of the 261 inmates requested to transfer from a male to a female correctional facility. Some officials and women’s rights groups are concerned that such transfers are being made “under false pretenses,” according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) said only six prisoners requested a transfer to a male institution. Deputy Press Secretary Terry Thornton said:

“255 are from transgender women and non-binary incarcerated people who are requesting to be housed in a female institution and six are from transgender men and non-binary incarcerated people who are requesting to be housed in a male institution.”

CDCR reported that no transfer requests based on gender identity have been denied. The agency said that 21 requests have been approved since the signing of the new law and that four have been transferred to the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.

Thornton said that two of the prisoners changed their minds about the transfer request.

Prisoners at Central California Women’s Facility warned that prisoners should expect violence over the transfers. 41-year-old Tomiekia Johnson to the Times that she overheard inmates discussing the transfers:

“That if we think it’s bad now, be prepared for the worst. That it’s going to be off the hook, it’s going to be jumping. They say we’re going to need a facility that’s going to be like a maternity ward.

They say we’re going to have an inmate program where inmates become nannies.”

Prison inmates and staff are concerned over the potential for male inmates to falsely claim to identify as female in order to get into female prisons. Thornton responded to the concerns by pointing to CDCR policy which states:

“CDCR’s classification process includes a thorough review of the incarcerated person’s history prior to and during incarceration, their crime, arrest and criminal history, trial and sentencing documentation, medical and mental health needs, custody level, time to serve, safety concerns, and other factors including security and program needs.

Medical and mental health care staff members are part of this process.

“Information documented includes their age, disabilities, gender identity, personal and criminal history, prior incarcerations, prior incidents of victimization either in custody or in the community, and convictions for sex offenses.

Based on the information gathered in the PREA Screening Tool, an inmate will be given one of three designations: at risk as a victim, at risk as an abuser, or not identified as being at risk.

Inmates at risk as a victim cannot be housed in a cell with an inmate identified as being at risk as an abuser.”

The law was passed with the intention of reducing sexual offenses against transgender inmates. However, the policy is not likely to calm the nerves of female prisoners concerned about violence generated from allowing men into female prisons.

A similar policy in Canada allows trans-identifying male prisoners to be housed in female prisons and women’s rights groups have been protesting the practice.

 Heather Mason, head of the Canadian chapter of the international “Keep Prisons Single Sex” campaign, said women are the victims of such policies:

“Female offenders from indigenous communities make up 42 percent of the Canadian prison population. Many of them already come from abusive situations but are afraid to speak up and suffer the consequences.”

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The post Elementary school gym teacher gets job back after being suspended for Christian speech on gender identity policies appeared first on Law Enforcement Today.

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Author: Jenna Curren


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