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The teacher who wouldn't bow

Byron Tanner Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, speaking before a meeting of the Loudon County School Board of Loudon, Virginia on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.
Byron Tanner Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, speaking before a meeting of the Loudon County School Board of Loudon, Virginia on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. | Screengrab: Vimeo/LCPS Board Meetings

I’m so thankful a Loudoun County teacher was suspended from his job because he spoke the truth.

Wait. That sounds crazy! Yes. I’m thankful that a physical education teacher in Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) chose to be a Daniel and tell the leftist school board that he wouldn’t bow to their radical transgender policy (Policy 8040).

That person was Tanner Cross. And he chose to serve God, not a woke and morally broke school board.

“I love all my students, but I cannot call a boy a girl and a girl a boy.” Tanner’s words, spoken courageously and graciously, resulted not only in his being suspended but being banned from all school property and events. LCPS demanded that he lie to his students. He refused. So, they tried to make an example of him.

They failed. A state judge reinstated Tanner’s job. The Virginia Supreme Court reaffirmed that decision despite LCPS’ attempts to overturn it. But that’s where the local and national news headlines ended.

And it’s where my journey with the Cross family began. When I saw the clip of Tanner speaking so boldly and with such moral clarity, I wanted to know who this public school teacher was. (My wife taught in both public and private schools for thirteen years.) I started looking online — okay I kinda Facebook-stalked him — until I found Tanner and Angela Cross. I wanted to know more about this couple and within days learned not only of their present struggle with a school-board-gone-wild, but their ten-year-long struggle to be able to have children.

Their pain caught my attention.

Every post I read convinced me that these two precious people who love Jesus were destined to be parents, even if nature had denied them such a gift. A child, somewhere, needed them as mom and dad. When I learned of how they experienced repeated heartbreaks following the denial of adoption through foster care because of their color (they’re white and the children were brown), righteous anger rose within me. I’m from a family of 15, where we’re white, black, mixed, Native American, Vietnamese, able and disabled. No child should ever be denied a home because the parents don’t somehow “match” the child. That’s racism. What moral law exists that says you have to be the same color to love someone?

My wife Bethany and I had just created the Henry & Andrea Bomberger Adopted and Loved Fund, to honor the incredible legacy of faith and love of my late father and mother (who is still alive and unleashing purpose in others). They adopted 10 of their 13 kids; I was the first one. Bethany and I are adoptive parents too. It’s why our heart has been to help others experience the transformative power of such an act of compassion, sacrifice, and justice. As I watched Tanner’s news interviews and read more from the couple’s social media posts, I knew they had to be the first recipients of our organization’s adoption fund for Christian families.

I’ll never forget that first phone call. I remember when I told them that I had been learning about what they were going through. I shared that I knew about their heartache and their dashed hopes of adoption because of the costs. “The Radiance Foundation can help,” I said with tears falling down my face. “We want to give you a grant to cover your adoption costs. We can help make this possible.” All I could hear was deep crying — the kind you can feel over the phone.

I’m thankful for a God who always hears our cries. An adoptee who was once rescued from the violence of abortion was able to play a small role in the miracle God had been orchestrating for their lives.

And it all started with courage. Had Tanner chosen not to speak from his heart, had he chosen not to stand up for his students and for the truth, I never would have heard of him. How many times do we miss out on a miracle because we shy away from doing the hard things?

Tanner had no idea what would happen as a result of his obedience to his faith and his conscience. God did. Tanner had no idea that an amazing organization — Alliance Defending Freedom — would defend him against a school administration that wanted to punish and silence him. He had no idea that his voice would do more than dispel the lies of gender confusion, but it would break ten years of despair.

In the natural and supernatural, adoption transforms brokenness into breakthrough.

That healing has a name. It’s Josiah. That precious baby boy was born earlier this year. His birthparents selflessly chose the Crosses to be the parents God meant for Tanner and Angela to be. We captured their story-beyond-the-headlines. I promise. This videowill make you cry. It’s one of what I hope to be thousands of Adopted and Loved stories.

Tanner Cross’ story is a powerful reminder that courage doesn’t need a crowd. It just needs someone with conviction.

Ryan Bomberger is the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of The Radiance Foundation. He is happily married to his best friend, Bethany, who is the Executive Director of Radiance. They are adoptive parents with four awesome kiddos. Ryan is an Emmy Award-winning creative professional, factivist, international public speaker and author of NOT EQUAL: CIVIL RIGHTS GONE WRONG. He loves illuminating that every human life has purpose.

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