Cross v. Loudoun County School Board
Description: A Loudoun County Public Schools policy requires all faculty and students, regardless of their beliefs about biological sex and gender, to use the pronouns that students demand regardless of their biological sex.
Loudoun County teacher wins free speech battle
LEESBURG, Va. – In settlement of the original claims that Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed on behalf of Leesburg Elementary School teacher Tanner Cross, the Loudoun County School Board has agreed to a permanent injunction prohibiting it from retaliating against Cross for expressing his constitutionally protected views on the board’s transgender policy. In an earlier ruling, the Loudoun County Circuit Court granted Cross’ request for preliminary relief against retaliation by the school board over his objection, spoken at a public school board meeting, to then-proposed Policy 8040, which forces teachers to violate their beliefs by requiring them to address “transgender and gender-expansive” students by their chosen pronouns rather than the ones consistent with their biological sex. The Virginia Supreme Court later affirmed the lower court’s ruling. The settlement makes this relief permanent.
As part of the settlement, the Loudoun County School Board also agreed to remove any reference to Cross’ suspension from his personnel file and to pay $20,000 toward Cross’ attorneys’ fees. In August, the court allowed ADF to amend its original complaint to add new claims against newly enacted Policy 8040 and to include Loudoun County High School history teacher Monica Gill and Smart’s Mill Middle School English teacher Kim Wright as clients alongside Cross. That portion of the lawsuit will continue against the board.
“Teachers shouldn’t be forced to promote ideologies that are harmful to their students and that they believe are false, and they certainly shouldn’t be silenced from commenting at public meetings,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “While we are very pleased that Tanner will be able to keep serving his students in light of this settlement, the concerns expressed in our ongoing lawsuit challenging the district’s policy remain. 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. That’s why our lawsuit asks the court to protect the constitutional rights of our clients by immediately halting enforcement of this harmful school district policy.”
The amended complaint filed in Cross v. Loudoun County School Board explains that if Gill, Wright, and Cross were to comply with the school board’s demands, “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.”
- Pronunciation guide: Langhofer (LANG’-hoff-uhr)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
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Tyson C. Langhofer serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom and director of its Center for Academic Freedom. Before joining ADF, Langhofer was a partner with Stinson Leonard Street LLP, where he worked as a commercial litigation attorney for 15 years and earned Martindale-Hubbell’s AV Preeminent® rating. Langhofer earned his Juris Doctor from Regent University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude in 1999. He obtained a B.A. in international business with a minor in economics from Wichita State University in 1996. A member of the bar in Virginia, Kansas, and Arizona, Langhofer is also admitted to practice in numerous federal district courts.
Ryan Bangert serves as senior counsel and vice president for legal strategy at Alliance Defending Freedom. He oversees the Center for Academic Freedom, the Center for Conscience Initiatives, and the regulatory litigation team, and assists ADF leadership with strategic initiatives. Before joining ADF, Bangert served as Deputy for Legal Counsel and Deputy First Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Texas Attorney General. In those roles, he oversaw the State’s Special Litigation Unit, which handled critical litigation against the federal government, and oversaw multiple divisions within the office, including the General Counsel Division and the Opinion Committee. Bangert also served as Deputy for Civil Litigation for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, overseeing the state’s civil litigation portfolio and over 200 attorneys and staff. Prior to his government service, Bangert was a litigation partner at Baker Botts L.L.P., where he was a volunteer attorney for ADF and served as amicus counsel in numerous cases. Bangert earned his B.A. from Oral Roberts University, and his J.D. from Southern Methodist University, where he graduated first in his class. He participated in the Blackstone Legal Fellowship program in 2002. Following law school, he clerked for Judge Patrick Higginbotham on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Bangert is an active member of the Texas Bar and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and various federal trial courts and courts of appeal.