Christian maths teacher facing disciplinary hearing after calling pupil born female a ‘girl’11 November 2017 Issued by: Christian Legal Centre
A respected Christian maths teacher at a school in Oxfordshire will appear at a disciplinary hearing on November 15 to answer allegations that he referred to a pupil born female as a “girl”.
Joshua Sutcliffe, from Oxford, began working at the school in September 2015 and currently teaches children aged 11-18. He has achieved excellent results, with his key-stage 3 students outperforming every parallel class.
On November 2, a complaint was made that Joshua referred to the pupil as a “girl”, rather than the desired ‘boy’. The pupil had self-declared as ‘male’. Joshua had not been given any formal instruction on how to refer to the pupil. An investigation began immediately, during which Joshua was prevented from teaching and forced to spend all his time ‘in isolation’ in the staff room.
Following the week-long investigation, the school found that Joshua ‘misgendered’ the pupil, ‘demonstrating discriminatory behaviours’ and ‘[contravened] the school’s equality policy’. The school recommended dealing with the matter of ‘misconduct’ under the disciplinary policy.
Since the pupil started at the school, Joshua has tried to balance his sincerely held Christian belief that biological sex is God-given and defined at birth, with the need to treat sensitively the pupil. He avoided the use of gender-specific pronouns, and instead referred to the pupil by the pupil’s chosen name. Joshua admits saying “Well done girls” when he addressed a group of students including the pupil in question. The pupil became irate at this and Joshua sought to diffuse the situation and apologised.
Whilst working at the school, Joshua also began running a successful Bible club, which was attended by over 100 pupils before being shut down by the school 18 months after its inception. He was initially told by the Headteacher that the Bible club could not run without a register and a curriculum. Yet, after producing the required documents, the Head still insisted on cancelling the club. During this time, the school’s LGBTI, mindfulness club, and Qigong club continued running without a register or curriculum.
Following a grievance meeting initiated by a deputy headteacher, it was found that the Bible club could continue running but only when the school was satisfied that it could be run in such a way that upheld the school’s policies. Determined to comply with the conditions and have the club reinstated, Joshua made numerous attempts over the following five weeks to follow instructions to re-instate the Bible club to be run in a way which upheld the school’s policies. After ignoring the issue over this period, the Head has recently agreed to a meeting where the issues will be discussed.
Responding to the disciplinary process, Joshua commented: “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.
“While the suggestion that gender is fluid conflicts sharply with my Christian beliefs, I recognise my responsibility as a teacher and Christian to treat each of my pupils with respect and dignity.
“I have never looked to impose my convictions on others, I just try to earnestly live out the gospel of peace.
“I have balanced these factors by calling the pupil by the 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.
“The aggressive way in which transgender ideology is being imposed is undermining my freedom of belief and conscience, as well as the conscience of many people throughout our nation who believe that gender is assigned at birth.
“I have a deep conviction that we are all made in God’s image, male and female.
The case comes just a week after well-known genetics expert, Professor Lord Robert Winston said that transgender people can end up “badly damaged”. In an interview on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, he said: “What I’ve been seeing in my fertility clinic is the long-term results of often very unhappy people who are now quite badly damaged.”
Professor Gary Barry, a leading expert in care for transgender children said on the same programme that the effect on fertility was “worrying”.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which is supporting the teacher, added:
“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 transgender fad.
“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.
“What we need is a culture in our schools which gives emotional support to children through puberty without encouraging them to make life-long decisions against their natural born biological sex.
‘If we collude in the transgender delusion we do not serve our children well, we harm them”.