A judge has ordered a teacher in Virginia to be reinstated after he was suspended for refusing to call a transgender student by their correct pronouns.
Gym teacher Byron 'Tanner' Cross told the Loudoun County school board that he would not 'affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa'.
Cross believes using someone's preferred pronouns can 'damage' them and 'defile the holy image of God'.
He said during his hearing: "I am speaking out of love for those who are suffering from gender dysphoria. I'm a teacher but I serve God first and 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."
Cross cited his religious beliefs during the disciplinary hearing and also pointed towards a 60 Minutes episode about young Americans who regretted transitioning.
The school board decided to place him on administrative leave him with pay from the Leesburg Elementary School and the principal was not involved in the decision making.
A judge has since overturned this ruling and said Cross should be allowed to exercise his right to free speech.
Despite this coming at the cost of affecting a young person's mental health, the ruling said 'upholding constitutional rights serves the public interest'.
Twelfth Circuit Judge James E. Plowman explained in his decision: "Defendants shall immediately reinstate the Plaintiff to his position as it was prior to the issuance of his suspension and remove the ban that was placed upon him from all buildings and grounds of Loudoun County Public Schools.
"[T]he Court has found...that the disruption relied upon was insufficient.
"The Court finds that in balancing all of the factors and weighing the facts presented, the Plaintiff's interest in expressing his First Amendment speech outweigh the Defendants interest in restricting the the same."
The decision comes despite Cross' beliefs going against the Loudoun County Public School board's official position on transgender students.
The position states 'staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student's permanent educational record'.
Cross is thrilled with the result, saying: "We're so happy. There were lots of tears, lots of hugs - we're just happy we were reinstated and I look forward to going back to serving Leesburg Elementary."
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