News from Europe

Christian teacher accused of ‘misgendering’ student takes appeal to High Court

32-year-old Christian teacher, Joshua Sutcliffe brought his case to the High Court last week. His lawyer stated that Mr Sutcliffe had the right "not to believe gender identity belief".

The Teaching Regulation Authority banned Mr Sutcliffe from teaching because he had used “the wrong” pronoun for a girl who was using male pronouns. He said “Well done girls” to a group of female students before realising the dissatisfied pupil was also among them. 

A regulation panel decided that Mr Sutcliffe had been guilty of unprofessional conduct and forbade him to teach in any capacity for at least two years and potentially indefinitely.

Supported by Christian Concern’s lawyer, Michael Phillips, Mr Sutcliffe is hopeful that his ordeal will take a turn for the better: “It is an important day for freedom in the U.K. This perverse decision by the Teaching Regulation Authority must be overturned.”

The UK Government’s draft transgender guidance for schools might provide an aid in Mr Sutcliffe’s battle. It states that “No teacher or pupil should be compelled to use these preferred pronouns and it should not prevent teachers from referring to children collectively as ‘girls’ or ‘boys,’ even in the presence of a child that has been allowed to change their pronouns.

Mr Sutcliffe had previously been reported to Prevent – a government organisation focused at people at risk of joining extremist groups or undertaking terrorist activities. Government agencies stated that Mr Sutcliffe had failed “to distinguish between his role as a teacher and his activities as a preacher”. 

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, stated: “The TRA is targeting an exceptional teacher because his Christian beliefs do not fall in line with the prevailing secular orthodoxy which cannot tolerate any dissent. For loving Jesus, speaking truth in his personal time and responding to questions from students on the Christian faith, he is being hounded out of the teaching profession. With critical shortages of teachers in the profession, why are the TRA so determined to force a high-performing teacher out for their Christian beliefs?”


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