A teacher and Christian pastor who faced discipline for accidentally misgendering a student is now suing the school, according to the BBC Monday.
Joshua Sutcliffe, 27, of Oxford, England, is suing his former employer, the Cherwell School, for “constructive dismissal and discrimination.” Sutcliffe said he left the school because it “systematically and maliciously” trampled on his rights as a Christian and made it hard for him to work there. Sutcliffe was a math teacher and taught students between the ages 11 and 18.
Sutcliffe said that he was punished after he said “well done girls” to a group of students, one of whom identifies as a boy in November. Sutcliffe said that he apologized to the student after he was corrected and that the incident was an accident.
“I was absolutely shocked to be told by the head that I was under investigation. I didn’t know what was happening. It was surreal, Kafkaesque,” said Sutcliffe to the Daily Mail. “I said it was only one incident for which I had apologized, but he insisted the investigation would go ahead. I had always tried to respect the pupil and keep a professional attitude as well as my integrity, but it seemed to me that the school was trying to force me to adhere to its liberal, Leftish agenda.”
Sutcliffe is also a pastor at Christ Revelation Church an evangelical church in Oxford, England. In a letter to the head teacher at the school, Sutcliffe said he didn’t believe in allowing students to choose their gender, but tried to balance his beliefs with the school’s rules and student’s wishes. Sutcliffe was suspended from teaching pending the results of an investigation.
“As a Christian, I do not share your belief in the ideology of transgenderism. I do not believe that young children should be encouraged to self-select a ‘gender’ which may be different from their biological sex. Or that everyone at school should adjust their behavior to accommodate such a ‘transition’; or that people should be punished for lack of enthusiasm about it,” said Sutcliffe in the letter.
Sutcliffe also said that he was given no instruction on how to address the student and tried to avoid gender designations at all. Some court documents, however, contend that Sutcliffe had used female identifiers with the student several times. The school’s investigation into Sutcliffe determined that his behavior was against school policy and that he brought up religious topics in math class despite it being a public school.
“Avoidance of using gendered pronouns contravenes the school’s code of conduct with regard to demonstrating an awareness of sexual and cultural diversity of students and use of insensitive comments towards young people… [and] the use of religious comments in maths lessons demonstrates a failure to comply with school policies,” read court documents from the school.
Sutcliffe’s legal matters are being aided by the Christian Legal Centre. The organization’s chief executive, Andrea Williams, released a statement about Sutcliffe’s position.
“This case is one of a flood of cases we are encountering where teachers are finding themselves silenced or punished if they refuse to fall in line with the current sexual and gender ideology being imposed on our children in schools,” said Williams. “We all know how much we change during our teenage years. It is vital that during those years we help our children to live in the biological sex they were born rather than encouraging them to change ‘gender’. If we encourage them to change gender it is not kind and compassionate; it is cruel…If we collude in the transgender delusion we do not serve our children well, we harm them.”
A British teacher believes his rights were violated after he accidentally misgendered a student. Photo: Christian Legal Centre
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