An elementary school physical education teacher who told the school board he would refuse to use a trans child’s proper pronouns and name can return to class after a judge ruled in his favor, issuing a temporary injunction reinstating him as the case proceeds through the court system.
During a discussion about a potential change to school policy, Tanner Cross told officials that respecting his student’s chosen pronouns and name would be impossible due to his religious beliefs, saying it amounted to “child abuse” and “sinning.”
Cross’s attorney argued that his objections were protected under free speech laws and Judge James E. Plowman Jr. gave weight to the argument by granting the injunction. While lawyers for the school said they suspended him after multiple calls from concerned parents, the court said they didn’t prove there would be a “significant disruption” of school functions if Cross was still allowed to teach.
The school board meeting was a public meeting and invited comments on the subject.
Cross said he could never “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl, and vice versa” during testimony before the school board as they considered a policy change that would require instructors to use the students’ chosen names and pronouns. The policy is still in the draft stage.
He said it would amount to “lying to a child… abuse to a child… and it’s sinning against our God.”
Two days later, Cross was placed on administrative leave and barred from the school grounds, school activities, and school board meetings.
Cross was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a far-right outfit that serves as the legal arm of the Evangelical religious right.
Dozens of states are considering and passing legislation to limit LGBTQ – and particularly transgender – rights, legislation that lawmakers often don’t really understand or can’t explain how it relates to their state. ADF, an SPLC designated hate group, is believed to be behind this effort.
ADF is also responsible for this year’s spate of lawsuits targeting anti-discrimination legislation, filing on behalf of Christian business owners who haven’t even been asked to serve LGBTQ customers but claiming that their religious freedom is impeded by the mere existence of civil rights laws.
The act of purposely referring to someone with their pretransition pronouns is known as misgendering and the act of intentionally using someone’s birth name, or name before transition, is known as “deadnaming.”
Teachers who bully their students are the lowest of the low.
— Ari Drennen (@AriDrennen) June 8, 2021