When authorities protect one’s liberty to believe and practice as they wish, that is virtuous.
When authorities affirm one’s liberty to believe as they wish but prohibit their practice, that is tyranny.
And if tyranny prohibits one from practicing their beliefs, then even greater than tyranny is the evil to force one to practice beliefs they do not hold.
But that is exactly what the Loudoun County school board’s Policy 8040 does. With this policy, teachers and staff are required to adapt to the preferred pronouns of their students. (Read all about Policy 8040 and the court hearing here.)
There is a subtle motive here that I hope when seen will be unignorable thereafter. The motive here is to completely liberalize the education system. What a conspiracy, right? Imagine a grand scheme to undermine liberty in America by pushing anti-liberty Marxian ideas of socialism, Critical Race Theory, gender fluidity, and moral relativity. Such a concept would be unheard of.
Well, for starters, they already have. But to expedite their agenda, they’ll have to first purge academia of those whose moral compasses push them to teach extreme ideologies like individual freedom, basic science, and how to think critically. Yes, those pesky Cracker Barrel Christians who desire good, wholesome, and evidence-based upbringings for their students who are really obstructing the liberal movement.
I mentioned above how the intent here is to drive conservatives out of academia, a motive that some may suggest is too nefarious and would need evidence to believe. Very well, here’s some evidence: Loudoun County school officials suspended a teacher, Tanner Cross, simply for voicing opposition to Policy 8040 during a public comment session. He didn’t even violate the policy, but they still suspended him. Granted, the policy wasn’t in place at the time of his suspension, but his actions wouldn’t have been a violation of the policy even if it was in place. He simply voiced opposition to the policy during a public discussion on the matter.
It bears repeating, as I just did, to emphasize how quickly school officials were to try and rid a conservative teacher from their ranks simply for voicing opposition to an unconstitutional policy. Thankfully, justice had the final word and he was reinstated, but his suspension reveals the inescapably dishonorable posture held by this school board and the corresponding authorities.
Cross said in a statement,
“It is not my intention to hurt anyone. But there are certain truths that we must face when ready. We condemn school policies like 8040 and 8035 because it will damage children, defile the holy image of God. 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 is against my religion. It’s lying to a child. It’s abuse to a child. And it’s sinning against our God.”
Cross’s reinstatement isn’t enough for him, though. He is joined by two other Loudoun County teachers, Monical Gill and Kimberly Wright, in a fight to strike the policy. The fierce trio are being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom.
On the point of faith, during a November 15 court hearing, the school board’s counsel, Stacey Haney, assured the judge that Policy 8040 did not force anyone to change what they believe. Taken aback, Judge James Plowman said essentially, That is exactly what the policy does. When you force someone to verbally state a position that they firmly disagree with, you hold no credibility to say, “I’m not forcing you to believe something you don’t want to.” Let me rephrase that:
There is no virtue in telling someone they may believe what they wish when you literally force them to verbally declare otherwise.
As I sat in the Loudoun County courtroom, I was baffled to hear Haney tell the judge that the policy doesn’t force anyone to change their beliefs.
What would it look like to force someone to affirm a position, if not forcing them to declare it? What better evidence that you’ve forced someone to take a position than to hear them verbally declaring it? This isn’t written to be redundant but to petrify the fact that Policy 8040 does, with tangible impact, force people to verbally and publicly affirm a position that they do not hold. So, to say that the policy “doesn’t force anyone to change what they believe” is simply a fallacious distraction from the real motive: power and control.
One of Haney’s main arguments is that the policy is enforceable because it is “curricular speech.”
Curricular speech is generally explained as speech that is directly connected to the curriculum or curricular duties. Haney argued that a science teacher who is also a Christian must teach evolution at a public school that includes evolution as part of their curriculum. Likely, she argued, this policy is curricular speech since the school board has passed it as they do with other curricular standards.
I’m no judge, but Judge James Plowman is, and he pushed back on Haney’s assertion by challenging the loose definition of curricular speech. Plowman argued that Haney’s use of curricular speech had indefinite parameters and thus could be abused to justify unconstitutional compelled speech.
A quick note about Haney’s evolution example: When a science teacher is hired, they know the curriculum ahead of time and what they’ll be required to teach. Policy 8040 is a novel rule implemented after teachers were hired and indisputably causes disruption among the community. Understandably, the policy is not a widely agreed-upon rule and thus shouldn’t be required. So, the evolution example does not work.
It should also be noted that the teaching of evolution, or any subject being taught, is isolated to the classroom. But with loosely defined limits, Policy 8040 could extend beyond the classroom and even beyond extra-curricular activities. When a teacher sees their students outside the classroom, there is no reason for them to suddenly start teaching a subject. There is, however, reason to talk with their students and subsequently use pronouns while in discussion with a group of them. Where does the jurisdiction of this policy end?
Judge Plowman illustrated this conflict by reminding Haney that a teacher, like a police officer, maintains their profession even when not on duty. Haney then asserted that the policy would only be applied when the teacher is acting in their professional capacity, but Plowman reminded Haney that such loose definitions of the policy and curricular speech do not give guidance to what is or isn’t considered a “professional capacity.”
Remember the Equality Act? It passed the House of Representatives earlier this year but is very unlikely to pass the Senate. Still, the fact that it’s even a consideration is scary. Also, such a bill did not start at the federal level. This extreme federal bill, like others, started in lower governments, became palatable over time, and made its way to Washington. Let’s learn from the Equality Act.
The classroom should welcome differing opinions. Indeed, the classroom should be the bedrock of harmonious dialogue. But what are harmonies without the bond of a common melody? Here, the melody is analogous to the fundamental truth that disagreement can coexist with respect for each others’ consciences. Without this underlying melody, all tunes that branch from it will be baseless. The song will devolve into a noise that will eventually drive the singers and the listeners to madness.
Perhaps the darkest cultural lie of today is the idea that disagreement equates to hatred. With this kind of thinking, people will eventually cease to disagree in efforts to avoid the appearance of hate and will succumb to the idea that they must present themselves as moderate or apathetic, if not completely capitulating. This type of thinking is detrimental to progress and undermines all things logical.
The stories of these Loudoun County teachers; Tanner Cross, Monica Gill, and Kimberly Wright are but three of many Americans today who are facing fiercely overreaching and indisputably unconstitutional standards. Chike Uzuegbunam, Ellie Wittman, Amelia Irvine, and many others have fought as Tanner et al. have to ultimately protect the careers and the personal liberties of the younger generations.
These teachers are on the side of science, morality, and foremost on the right side of creation. Our Lord told us that we would suffer hate because of our witness for Him. While no hate has spewed from Tanner, Monica, or Kimberly, hate has hit them with full force. The irony is thick that these teachers would courageously put their careers and reputations on the line for the sake of their students’ well-being, while then being accosted for allegedly hurting students.
Lying to students hurts students.
Allowing students in their adolescence to shape policy hurts students.
Affirming an illness as normalcy hurts students.
All credit and appreciation to Alliance Defending Freedom and their clients for calling out the naked emperor.
John Wesley Reid is the Editor-in-Chief at the Standing for Freedom Center. John has worked in Washington D.C. for several years covering politics, the Supreme Court, and church relations within the political sphere.
During his tenure in DC, he was a producer with CBN News, digital media director for the Family Research Council, and is a contributing author for various networks. John is published in the Christian Post, CBN News, Disrn, Family Research Council, and other publications. After serving in the Marine Corps, John studied political science at Biola University before beginning his career in journalism.