A Virginia elementary school teacher is suing his employer after he was placed on leave for refusing to use students’ preferred pronouns, NBC Washington reports. Byron “Tanner” Cross, who taught physical education at Leesburg Elementary School, alleges that the school violated his First Amendment rights. Cross told school officials last week that it was against his religion to use a student’s preferred pronouns. Officials at the school are currently in talks to implement a rule that would let trans students use their preferred name and pronouns. In a letter sent to multiple schools in Loudon County last week, Cross’ lawyers asked the school to reinstate him, but they denied the request, and the teacher remains on paid leave.
“Public schools have no business compelling teachers to express ideological beliefs that they don’t hold,” the letter reads. “This isn’t just about a pronoun; LCPS wants to compel teachers to endorse and advance an ideology.” Cross’ lawyers work for Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit organization “committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life,” according to the group.