A high school teacher in Virginia who refused to use transgender pronouns, “they,” “them,” and other new gender terms was reinstated by a judge this week. The ruling cites Title IX of the Civil Rights Act as providing protections for students as a class.
This is an important case to watch going forward because it could have wide-reaching implications for other teachers and employees throughout the country who find themselves in similar situations.
Although this was not an employment-discrimination case, the ruling could give Title IX precedence over a number of other laws that were passed with the intention of allowing employers to discriminate against certain groups.
The Virginia teachers’ contract reads, in part:
Each teacher agrees not to … engage in any conduct or speech that is inconsistent with the professional standards of the school division.
“Professional standards,” according to Lamb, includes gender identity nondiscrimination. In other words, teachers who do not use preferred pronouns could be subject to disciplinary action.
Plowman agreed that the weight of the evidence suggests Cross is a “real, live person” with a past and a “societal identity,” not a legal fiction.
“Cross has an ability to affect the school’s process,” Plowman said. “A possible remedy is denying Cross access to the education of Virginia School Children.”
I’m all for anyone who wants to use the pronoun that fits their gender identity. I don’t think it’s right for Cross to exclude others from learning through their own experiences.
As a result, the judge ruled Cross needed to be reinstated.
Singling out teachers and bullying them for not wanting to use a particular pronoun is simply not a good way to treat people. I think we can all agree on that, regardless of our personal beliefs on transgenderism.
For that reason, we are pleased with the judge’s ruling and hope the district won’t appeal the decision.
Farris, himself a long-time resident of Loudoun County and former president of the county’s school board, said he expected the case to have a chilling effect on teachers.
“I’m concerned that those teachers will now feel they have to walk on eggshells and avoid any disagreement,” he said. “We can’t have that.”
If we are going to teach kids how to be mature, rational adults, then we need teachers who are allowed to use their own personal experiences as tools in the classrooms. That’s how you condition students into making better life choices and having more empathy for others.