News Analysis Oct 17, 2021 8:25 PM EST

ACLU backs compelled speech policy in Loudoun County, Virginia

The issue is pronouns, and whether teachers should be compelled to use pronouns of a student's choosing, and the venue is the much maligned school district of Loudoun County, Virginia.

ACLU backs compelled speech policy in Loudoun County, Virginia
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The ACLU filed a brief in opposition to free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been on the decline with regard to its defense of citizens rights just as it has been increasing its adherence to backing the progressive political status quo, is fighting against public school teachers who do not believe they should be compelled to ally with views to which they are fundamentally opposed.

The issue is pronouns, and whether teachers should be compelled to use pronouns of a student's choosing, and the venue is the much maligned school district of Loudoun County, Virginia.

A policy in that school district requires teachers to use the pronouns dictated by a student for that student. A physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, Byron "Tanner" Cross, was told that he must use a student's preferred pronouns. He refused, and was placed on administrative leave in May.

Cross had made his feelings known during a school board meeting, wherein he stated that he "will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl, and vice versa," as it went against his religious beliefs. "I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of consequences," he said.

He was reinstated a short time later, as the lawsuit continued. Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Cross, said that "Nobody should be punished for expressing concern about a proposed government policy, especially when the government invites comment on that policy. For that reason, we are pleased at the court's decision to halt Loudoun County Public Schools' retaliation against Tanner Cross while his lawsuit continues."

In the suit, the ACLU takes on the ADF, a legal advocacy group that has taken up causes once championed by the ACLU, that of free speech.

Cross' challenge against his termination rests on Loudoun County's Policy 8040, which reads that all staff of the Loudoun County Public Schools "shall allow gender-expansive of transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student's permanent educational record.

"School staff shall," the policy insists, "at the request of a student or parent/legal guardian… use the name and pronoun that correspond with their gender identity." Anyone who doesn't do so, barring accidental slips, will be "in violation of this policy."

This is the same policy that requires that schools facilitate the use of whatever restroom a student feels their chosen gender entitles them to, regardless of their biological sex, or the comfort of the other students.

The ACLU claims in their brief that "The Policy includes provisions requiring teachers to use students' gender-affirming pronouns, which is crucial to the mental health and well-being of trans and gender-expansive children."

The ADF maintains that it is a violation of Cross' free speech rights. This is a similar claim to one made by Dr. Jordan Peterson, albeit on the Canadian side of the border, in 2016. These concerns about compelled speech and fundamental liberties have now made their way fully into the US legal system.

The ACLU claims that teachers don't have the right to violate Policy 8040, which they say "protects trans and gender-expansive students from discrimination, and necessitates equal treatment of all students in Loudoun County."

"We know that discriminatory practices," the ACLU writes, "such as the refusal to use a student's gender-affirming pronouns, can exacerbate gender dysphoria and harm socio-emotional development during critical childhood years. Policy 8040 ensures that trans and non-binary students can focus on their education without the added stigmatization, stress and anxiety of being misgendered by their teachers."

Civil rights attorney Harmeet Dillon said that the ACLU has "lost the plot completely."

The action prompted journalist Glenn Greenwald to predict the end of the ACLU as it has been, a defender of free speech rights and civil liberties, to become a propagandist arm of the federal government. Greenwald called attention to the impressive decline of the ACLU in The Intercept a year ago, saying "it has also been criticized for abandoning its core identity of being a non-partisan civil liberties group that defends free speech and due process rights of everyone, and instead transforming into a standard liberal activist group." And the ACLU is just getting worse.

It was during a school board meeting in Loudoun County on June 22 that many parents and residents voiced their support for Cross.

These included local parent Scott Smith, who was arrested and removed from that meeting after speaking against Policy 8040, which is what permitted a male student to enter a girls' restroom that his daughter was using and subsequently rape her there in that facility.

While he was initially portrayed as an unruly parent, it has since been revealed by The Daily Wire that he was seeking justice for his daughter, who was raped by a male student "wearing a skirt" in the girls' bathroom. The school district did nothing but move the rape suspect to another school, where he allegedly did it again. After that June meeting, Loudoun County instituted a new policy to keep parents out of meetings.

Smith was at that school board meeting to protest the board's treatment of his daughter and their cover-up of the sexual assault in the school's bathroom. Smith's arrest was one of the catalysts that led the National School Board Association (NSBA) to send a letter to President Joe Biden demanding that concerned parents who voice their views, often with anger, at school board meetings should be investigated by the same agencies that specialize in investigating domestic terrorism. The Department of Justice, under AG Merrick Garland, said that they would undertake to do so.

The NSBA likened these parents to domestic terrorists, and the AP went so far as to fact-check anyone who said that this is what the NSBA did. The quote from the NSBA, however, is clear: "As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes." This is what the NSBA, the Biden administration, and apparently the ACLU thinks of a father trying to get justice for the sexual violation of his daughter.

It turns out that for the most part, parents have been trying to protect their children from obstructionist school boards that cover-up rape allegations and try to compel teachers to speak against their moral beliefs. The ACLU backs the school boards and seeks to uphold compelled speech despite the obvious limitations to compelling Americans to speak as outlined in the First Amendment.

Should a teacher have to comply with a policy that results in girls being raped in bathrooms? Is a person who doesn't believe people should be compelled to speak against their beliefs a domestic terrorist? The ACLU would say yes.

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