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Three Virginia Teachers Stand Up for Free Speech in Challenge Over Controversial School Board Policy

By Dustin Hobbs posted on:
January 5, 2022

Teachers can have lifelong impacts on their students. Some of the most influential people in the lives of our children are teachers, who are entrusted to instruct them in academics grounded in truth. Perhaps most important, teachers should be free to strive for students in a way that doesn’t force them to violate their own beliefs by coercing them to affirm radical ideologies they believe to be false and harmful to their students.

In Loudoun County, Virginia, the local school board recently passed a radical new policy that forces teachers and staff to ignore biological realities and indoctrinate students with ideologies that have proven harmful to children.

The Loudoun County School Board (LCPS) has refused to listen to the concerns of teachers and parents and instead is pushing its own agenda. Three teachers are now standing up against the policy, which is driven by ideology, not science.

Who: Monica Gill, Kim Wright, and Tanner Cross

Three faculty members, Loudoun County High School history teacher Monica Gill and Smart’s Mill Middle School English teacher Kim Wright, along with Leesburg Elementary School physical education teacher Tanner Cross, have challenged LCPS’s Policy 8040.

Monica, Kim, and Tanner simply want to have the freedom to do their jobs without being forced to indoctrinate students with radical and harmful ideologies that violate their own beliefs and put children at risk.

Monica notes in a recent op-ed that “[t]he board’s new rule keeps me from doing what I have always done: deal in love and honesty with every student that crosses the threshold into my classroom.”

What: Cross v. Loudoun County School Board

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are representing Monica, Kim, and Tanner in a lawsuit to challenge LCPS’s Policy 8040, which forces all of the school district’s students and staff to refer to “gender-expansive or transgender” students using whatever gender pronoun is chosen by the student, regardless of whether the pronoun is consistent with the student’s biological sex.

Policy 8040 was passed by the Loudoun County School Board on August 11. Tanner Cross was suspended by LCPS after speaking out against the proposed policy during a May 25 public meeting. Thanks to the efforts of ADF attorneys, LCPS was forced to reinstate Tanner. Now, the three teachers have asked the Loudoun County Circuit Court for a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of Policy 8040.

When: November 2021 – Present

The Loudoun County Circuit Court heard arguments on a motion for preliminary injunction on November 15. A decision is expected soon.

Where: Loudoun County, Virginia

The policy was passed by the Loudoun County School Board, located in Northern Virginia.

Why: To protect teachers from the effects of a coercive speech and gender ideology policy

According to an amended complaint filed in the case, if the teachers were required to comply with the policy, they “would be forced to communicate a message they believe is false—that gender identity, rather than biological reality, fundamentally shapes and defines who we truly are as humans, that our sex can change, and that a woman who identifies as a man really is a man, and vice versa. But if they refer to students based on their biological sex, they communicate the views they actually believe—that our sex shapes who we are as humans, that this sex is fixed in each person, and that it cannot be changed, regardless of our feelings or desires.”

Bottom Line: This case, and Policy 8040, is about far more than just pronouns. The Virginia Constitution clearly affords educators the right to care for their students without violating their conscience or their faith. They shouldn’t be coerced into affirming a radical ideology they believe will cause their students real harm.

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Dustin Hobbs, Senior Digital Copywriter & Editor

Dustin Hobbs

Dustin Hobbs serves as the Senior Digital Copywriter & Editor at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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