A meeting of the Loudon County, Virginia school board meeting became a raucous affair Tuesday evening, as parents and even some of Byron “Tanner” Cross’s colleagues slammed board members for suspending Cross for exercising his First Amendment rights.

The latest controversy for the now well-known school board came last month when Cross, who is a Christian, refused to use ‘preferred gender’ pronouns. 

Cross said of his beliefs, “…it’s against my religion. It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”

Just days after Cross’s comments, he was informed by mail not to come on to school grounds.

A letter from the school district stated that they were investigating “allegations that you engaged in conduct that has had a disruptive impact on the operations” at the school.

A Judge ordered the school district yesterday to reinstate Cross on grounds that his free speech rights had been violated. 

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Defending The First Amendment

The Loudon County School Board was met with plenty of anger by not only parents, but several of Cross’s colleagues, who see Cross’s suspension as not a case of being discriminatory towards transgender students, but a clear issue of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

One parent, Rachel Pisani, mother of three students in the district, had this to say:

“Where is your regard for our freedom of speech? When I saw a teacher express an opinion and suspended for expressing his religious beliefs, I could no longer stay silent. When did it become acceptable to be tolerant only when someone expresses a view that we agree with? When did it become appropriate to silence those that hold Christian, biblical views just because you don’t? When did it become appropriate to allow the school board – I don’t know who you think you are – but it is not appropriate, it is not allowable to silence, bully, or dismiss our views.”  

Teacher Jeremy Wright left a copy of the first amendment on the podium. He stated, “For the members of Chardonnay Antifa, here is your assignment with a copy of the First Amendment attached. I’m going to leave this here and I hope you learn something.”

The controversy has certain brought lots of comments on social media as well.

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Loudon County School Board No Stranger To Controversy

Loudon County has been in the spotlight quite a bit recently.

A new political action committee called “Fight For Schools” formed to recall school board members pushing critical race theory in Loudon County schools.

The group held a press conference in front of the administration building to announce that the group is gathering signatures to recall six board members. The PAC was started by  former Trump Justice Department official Ian Prior, but the concern over critical race theory is crossing political lines quickly.

Of the move to recall board members, Prior stated, “They’re the ones voting on all these policies, they’re the ones supervising what is happening in the administration. Ultimately, if we want to make change, if we want to get to an education that values students as individuals and not as some identity group, then we have to replace the school board.” 

Emily Curtis, a Clinton admin alumni who describes herself as a “first amendment liberal” began to back the parents and the PAC when she said she watched her neighbors being attacked and silenced.

As of right now, Loudon County schools has no official curriculum that teaches critical race theory.

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Some Defended The School Board

Some defended the ‘preferred pronouns’ policy. One former student said, “Thank you for standing up for our LGBTQ students and I hope you keep going.”

A parent who identified themselves as transgender stated, “I’m just shocked that we have to fight this battle right now during pride month.”

State Delegate Jennifer Boyko also sided with the school board saying, “I want to thank you for your commitment to equality and making sure every child feels loved and valued.” 

 

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