A teacher has been suspended and could lose his job after allegations he referred to a pupil who was born female, but “self-identifies” as a boy, as a girl.
A complaint was made against Joshua Sutcliffe, a Christian who teaches at a British state secondary school, after he said, “Well done girls” to the pupil and her friend in class, when he saw the pair working hard.
The maths teacher apologised when “corrected” by the pupil, and thought no more about the incident until six weeks later, according to the Mail on Sunday, when he was called to the head’s office and told he was suspended from teaching while the Oxfordshire school investigates a “transgender complaint” made against him.
Mr Sutcliffe is to appear at a formal disciplinary hearing this week to face misconduct charges, after a week-long investigation found him guilty of “misgendering’ the teenager, “demonstrating discriminatory behaviours” and having “contravene[d] the school’s equality policy”.
However, Premier Christian Radio reports that a press release from the Christian Legal Centre — which is supporting the 27-year-old Exeter University graduate — said that the school had not given any formal instruction on how to refer to the pupil, whose mother was reportedly the complainant in the case.
This is shocking. What happened to the university as a centre of enquiring free thought? https://t.co/fcRZKLz8vf
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 25, 2017
According to documents seen by the Mail on Sunday, the school also found Mr Sutcliffe to have been in breach of the school’s equality policies when he referred to the teenager by name, rather than using male pronouns.
The maths graduate admitted avoiding using male pronouns for the pupil. But he explained to staff carrying out the investigation that, while as a Christian he believes privately that it is wrong to call a someone born female a male, he also recognised “my responsibility as a teacher and Christian to treat each of my pupils with respect.
“I have balanced these factors by using the pupil’s chosen name, and although I did not intentionally refer to the pupil as a ‘girl’, I do not believe it is unreasonable to call someone a girl if they were born a girl.”
However, the investigation found that Mr Sutcliffe’s “avoidance of gendered pronouns” constituted a breach of “the school’s code of conduct with regard to demonstrating an awareness of sexual and cultural diversity of students.”
The finding raises concerns that activists are going beyond restrictions on free speech to enforce a type of compelled speech; already a hot topic in North America after Professor Jordan Peterson spoke out on the subject.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 29, 2017
Speaking of the disciplinary process, which he revealed ‘reduced him to tears’, the teacher said: “I have been shocked and saddened by the actions of the school, which, in my opinion, reflect an increasing trend of seeing Christians, people like me, being marginalised in the public square, and our beliefs punished and silenced.
“I have a deep conviction that we are all made in God’s image, male and female.”
Last month, Breitbart London reported on the case of Christian printer Nigel Williams, who declined to produce business cards for a transgender diversity consultant, making the argument that such work can be used to harm fellow believers.
“The new model of diversity is used (or misused) to marginalise (or indeed discriminate against) Christians in their workplaces and other parts of society if they do not subscribe to it,” he wrote in an email to SEE Change Happen boss Joanne Lockwood.