The following statement can be attributed to Eden Heilman, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia:
On October 13, 2021, the ACLU of Virginia filed an amicus brief in Byron Tanner Cross, et al v. Loudoun County School Board, et al, along with our partners at the ACLU, Equality Virginia, Equality Loudoun, Side By Side, and He She Ze and We. The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Mr. Cross and the other teachers, filed an opposition to block our amicus brief, and thankfully, their opposition was denied by the Loudoun County Circuit Court at a hearing on November 15.
The amicus brief seeks to bring the perspective of directly impacted students and families into the court record and show how harmful it is for a teacher to deny a student’s gender identity. The amicus also contains legal authority and additional materials not addressed by the parties to the case. Alliance Defending Freedom argues that its clients should not be forced to use pronouns consistent with a student’s gender identity, claiming that it compels speech and violates their religious beliefs.
The plaintiffs are asking the court for an order prohibiting the Loudoun County School Board from enforcing Policy 8040, which protects transgender and nonbinary students from discriminatory practices. The law is very clear on this issue: Multiple courts have ruled that discrimination against trans and nonbinary students is illegal and unconstitutional, which the state legislature wrote into law in 2020. The Virginia Department of Education created model policies on this issue and required all school boards to meet or exceed these policies. The Loudoun County School Board is simply complying with clear, established law.
Alliance Defending Freedom and its clients are casting this as a free speech and religious freedom issue, but each public school teacher has an obligation to comply with the law and policies of their school district and to respect, protect, and educate all their students – not just the ones they agree with.
They do not have the right to discriminate against students on the taxpayers’ dime.
They do not have the right to deny the existence of trans and nonbinary students.
They do not have the right to punish students simply for being honest about who they are.
These students are required by law to attend school and have the right to an education regardless of their gender identity. Ensuring that all students are protected, in Loudoun County and throughout the Commonwealth, will be a long fight, but we will continue the fight until all students have equal access to education – free from discrimination.