Va. Democrats declare war after pastor’s public defense of teacher objecting to transgender policy

Special to WorldTribune, June 1, 2021

by R. Clinton Ohlers

An elementary school teacher refused to affirm a controversial policy on “transgender identity” last week, following his Christian faith and evidence from a “60 Minutes” investigative report about significant psychological harms that can accompany gender transition.

When he was promptly put on administrative leave, his pastor came to his defense from the pulpit Sunday morning. Now the Loudoun County Democratic Committee is targeting them both.

Byron ‘Tanner’ Cross spoke at the Loudoun County school board meeting on May 25. / Loudoun County Public Schools

Byron “Tanner” Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, stated before the Loudoun County school board last Tuesday, “I love all of my students but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences. 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.”

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) put Cross on administrative leave days after he refused to say a “biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.”

Scott Mineo, who runs the group Parents Against Critical Theory, told Fox News: “This was a bold, insulting, and eye opening moment that showed public opinion means so little to LCPS, that they still felt it was a good idea to force this teacher into to take leave. Hypocrisy and shame don’t even begin to describe their actions.”

Another Loudoun parent, Elizabeth Perrin, told Fox News that “it is truly sad that once again, our school board listens only to those in agreement with their point of view, and punishes any dissenting opinions via social media.”

Perrin was referring to the secret Facebook group, Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County, which has allegedly tried to doxx and blacklist opponents of critical race theory.

The LCPS policy Cross said he objected to states that “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.”

Cross was responding not only from his Christian faith, but from direct evidence from a “60 Minutes” investigative report by Leslie Stahl, which aired on May 23. Stahl’s episode included interviews with over 30 young adults who deeply regretted chemical and surgical gender transition, felt led astray, and are now de-transitioning back to their original genders.

Individuals interviewed said they believed they “didn’t get enough pushback on transitioning.” One who spoke of the difficult psychological effect she experienced after mastectomy called the ease of access to transitioning “completely crazy.” Another spoke of struggles against plans of suicide afterwards.

Cornerstone Chapel Pastor Gary Hamrick spoke out against the school board’s actions during his service on May 30, defending Cross, who attends the church and criticizing the school board’s policy as child abuse. He also called for Cross to be reinstated.

“The school board — some of them, not all — some of them are not doing their duty to protect, let alone educate our children,” Hamrick said. “And they are subjecting them to sexually explicit materials … and they are already talking about introducing racially divisive curriculum, they are emotionally abusing our children by perpetuating the lie about gender confusion when they affirm pronouns that are contrary to biology, reality, and the beautiful design of God. So, they need to be held accountable and it’s time to step up.”

After the service, a petition was available to sign to recall the school board. Close to 1,000 signatures were gathered, about half the number needed to trigger a recall for five of the six board members, according to Larry Ward, president of Political Media, Inc.

Harmick also sees a significant First Amendment issue for Christians: “When somebody can’t even exercise their first amendment rights of free speech, there’s a problem. All of Tanner Cross’s remarks were very loving, very considerate, but they are remarks that expressed his convictions as a believer, and if we as Christians are being silenced today, then somebody has to speak up.”

In response, the Loudoun County Democratic Committee intensified the conflict with a pugnacious letter accusing Hamrick of “inflammatory and insidious remarks about several Loudoun elected officials” and accused the pastor of fomenting violence.

“We call on Pastor Gary Hamrick to recant his allegations due to the libelous and inflammatory nature of the remarks,” the committee said. “Unfounded statements such as these not only hurt our community that he is meant to serve but have dangerous ramifications for the incitement of violence.”

Hamrick on Monday said: “My beef with the school board is I wish they would just stick with reading, writing, and arithmetic. When they get into issues of sexuality and gender identity they are actually moving into a lane that I feel like is our lane as a church because those are God ordained subjects. Sexuality, gender, those are God ordained subjects, so if they would stick with reading, writing, and arithmetic, I’d be fine. Once they start entering into this area of gender identity and sexuality, I think the church needs to speak up and have a response to that.”

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