A Virginia judge postponed Tuesday a trial in a lawsuit brought by three teachers challenging Loudoun County Public Schools’ policy requiring staff to use transgender students’ chosen pronouns.
Loudoun County Circuit Judge James E. Plowman Jr. decided to delay the trial after he granted a motion last week to let two of the teachers join the lawsuit and allow their amended complaint. He has not yet set a new date for the trial.
In the amended complaint, the three teachers ask the judge to grant a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to block the school system from enforcing part of the “Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students” policy. They say it violates their constitutional rights of free speech and religious liberty.
They take issue with a provision 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.”
If forced to comply, they argue 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.”
County school board members say the policy was established to adhere to a new state law requiring Virginia school boards to adopt policies on the treatment of transgender students by the start of the 2021-22 academic year.
The trial postponement comes after the state’s high court last week upheld a ruling directing the Loudoun County school system to temporarily reinstate one of the teachers who was suspended after speaking out in May about the then-proposed policy.
The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed Judge Plowman’s ruling that Byron Tanner Cross’ public comments did not cause a “significant disruption” to school operations that would warrant his suspension.
Mr. Cross filed the original lawsuit in June after he was placed on paid administrative leave days after he had said the then-proposed policy would violate his religious beliefs and that he believes letting children transition genders could harm their physical or mental well-being.
The state Supreme Court’s decision requires the school system to allow the gym teacher to keep teaching while the legal battle plays out.
Two other teachers asked to join Mr. Cross’ lawsuit in August after the school board voted 7-2 to approve the policy. They are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group.