Two Loudoun County teachers plan to join a lawsuit filed by a colleague who argues that a school district policy requiring staff to use transgender students’ preferred pronouns amounts to a violation of educators’ religious rights.
High school history teacher Monica Gill and middle school English teacher Kim Wright asked to join the Virginia suit one week after the Loudoun County Public School (LCPS) board voted 7-2 to approve the “Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students” policy.
They specifically take issue with part of the policy that states “staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their consistently asserted gender identity without any substantiating evidence, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student’s permanent educational record.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a motion this week to amend its complaint to add the two teachers to the suit. The Christian conservative legal group says it is also planning to ask the court to “halt enforcement of that portion of the policy while the case moves forward.”
The amended complaint states that if the educators are forced to comply, they would have 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.”
The amendment continues: “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.”
ADF senior counsel Tyson Langhofer says “public employees cannot be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep a job.”
“Freedom — of speech and religious exercise — includes the freedom not to speak messages against our core beliefs,” Mr. Langhofer said.
The amended complaint asks the court to permanently enjoin LCPS from enforcing the policy to compel people to express views on gender identity “that violate their conscience” — or to prohibit people from expressing their own views on the subject or to punish them for those views.
ADF initially filed the suit in June on behalf of elementary school gym teacher Byron Tanner Cross, who was suspended after speaking out against the then-proposed policy at a school board meeting.
Mr. Cross, who is a Christian, said during the public comment period that “I’m a teacher, but I serve God first.”
“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,” he said.
The school told Mr. Cross that he was being placed on administrative leave “pending an investigation of allegations that [he] engaged in conduct that has had a disruptive impact on the operations of Leesburg Elementary School.”
Circuit Judge James E. Plowman Jr., however, granted a temporary injunction on June 8 requiring the school district to immediately reinstate Mr. Cross while his lawsuit continues.
“The plaintiff’s interest in expressing his First Amendment speech outweighs the defendants’ interest in restricting the same, and the level of disruption that defendant asserts did not serve to meaningfully disrupt the operation or services of Leesburg Elementary School,” Judge Plowman wrote.
The judge has not yet ruled on ADF’s request to amend its complaint.