Teacher takes legal action over sacking for safeguarding concerns about 8-year-old’s ‘gender transition’12 May 2023 Issued by: Christian Concern
A Christian primary schoolteacher has lost her job and is facing a raft of investigations from various regulatory bodies for questioning the advice from Stonewall and Mermaids to encourage a ‘gender transition’ of an 8-year-old pupil without any medical evidence.
The child, who cannot be identified for legal reasons and is known only as ‘Child X’, believed she was born in a wrong body and wanted to be treated as a boy.
Based on the advice from trans rights organisations, the council instructed all school staff always to refer to the child by male pronouns and name and that she should use boys’ toilets, dressing rooms and dormitories as requested.
Supported by Christian Legal Centre, the teacher known as ‘Hannah’ (not her real name) invoked the School’s and the Council’s whistleblowing procedure to argue that this approach was not based on medical evidence or compliance with the safeguarding procedures and was putting the child’s health and welfare at risk.
Hannah relied on several expert reports from scientists and doctors highlighting the dangers of encouraging ‘gender transition’ in young children.
After her concern was brushed aside, Hannah brought a claim for judicial review against the School and the Council.
Pursuant to an order made by the Court, the local council, the school and all its staff must remain anonymous to ensure this does not lead to a jigsaw identification of the child.
In response to Hannah’s legal action, the school summarily dismissed Hannah for divulging confidential information to her lawyers and to the Court.
The school reported Hannah to the Information Commissioner for a criminal offence under the Data Protection Act. The Information Commissioner has concluded there was no evidence of a criminal offence and decided to take no further action.
The school also reported Hannah to the professional regulator, Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA), for an alleged confidentiality breach. The TRA is currently investigating the case. If found guilty of professional misconduct, Hannah may face a lifelong ban from the profession.
Reporting Hannah to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), the school sought to bar her from teaching. The DBS, however, has declined to impose a ban pending further enquiries following an investigation.
After a life-long career as a professional teacher, Hannah has been forced to find a job in a sandwich bar.
She has now brought a claim in Employment Tribunal against the school for victimising her for whistleblowing, unfair dismissal, and religious discrimination.
She has alleged that the school dismissed her, and reported her to a raft of regulators, for blowing the whistle on the school’s practice which endangered the child’s safety, health and welfare.
The Employment Tribunal is expected to hear the claim in August 2024.
Hannah has now this week written to Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, requesting a meeting to discuss her case.
Her case and the TRA investigation come despite a scathing report published last month by the Policy Exchange.
The report reveals the disturbing extent of extreme transgender and gender identity ideology in UK schools and in the foreword to the report Rosie Duffield MP, who says that:
“A generation of children are being let down, because well-established safeguarding standards are being compromised.”’
The report went on to say regarding sex and gender issues that:
“Safeguarding principles are being routinely disregarded in many secondary schools, which are neglecting their safeguarding responsibilities in favour of a set of contested beliefs in a way that risk jeopardising child wellbeing and safety.”
Launching legal action and responding to news of the TRA’s investigation, Hannah said: “Like all teachers at the school, I owed a safeguarding duty to Child X.
“From day one I believe that I acted in Child X’s best interests as I had a legitimate belief that the treatment of Child X amounted to a serious safeguarding issue.
“I followed all the correct procedures, I backed all of my concerns with expert evidence and believed the action I took was in the public interest.
“It is because I care so much about children that I am taking this action. This isn’t about me simply trying to prove that I am right, but about the safety of a seriously distressed child.
“I could not participate in causing harm tom Child X. The tragic stories of ‘detransitioners’, the Policy Exchange report and clear expert scientific evidence, back and vindicate me.
“Teachers are being bullied not to question trans affirming policies when evidence shows that the actual result of the approach is to put the welfare of children at serious risk.
“I am determined to pursue justice over how I have been treated, but my number one concern and motivation is to protect this child and other children in this country from harm.”
Society has lost its moral compass
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre who are backing Hannah’s case, said:
“The Policy Exchange report exposes how schools are failing in their safeguarding duty to children and Hannah’s story reveals why they are failing. If a teacher raises a safeguarding concern about a gender confused child, they are bullied, labelled transphobic, sacked, reported as a potential criminal and face never being able to teach again.
“Society has lost its moral compass. How did we ever decide that it would be helpful for children to be taught that they might be born in the wrong body? How is it helpful for distressed children to encourage them down a path of ‘changing gender’ with all the associated medical intervention?
“Clearly schools and teachers are terrified of being accused of being ‘transphobic’ and even reported to regulators as a safeguarding risk, a danger to children or even as a criminal.
“For years, parents and teachers who have raised safeguarding concerns over these issues have been ignored and disbelieved despite clear expert evidence demonstrating the harm trans affirmation causes.
“The Policy Exchange report highlights that school leaders and teachers are endemically failing to follow standard safeguarding protocols in relation to ‘transitioning’, but in this case, we see what happens to a teacher who tries to do it right.
“The Policy Exchange report vindicates Hannah, but she still faces a battle for justice with the school, local authority and TRA seeking maliciously to end her career.
“This story exposes the confusion and untruths being embedded in primary schools which are developing into a public health crisis.
“The Department for Education must look closely at this case and take appropriate action to protect teachers, who often hold Christian beliefs on these issues, from being hounded out of the profession for opposing or even questioning transgender ideology.”
Background to the story
Ahead of the new term in September 2021, the school where Hannah had worked without complaint for five years, had agreed to adopt extreme measures to affirm children with gender incongruency.
The school’s new policy was implemented when a primary school aged child, who would be joining Hannah’s class, had said they wished to change their gender.
The parents of Child X backed their decision and wanted no other children or parents in the school to know their real biology.
The policy appeared to allow any child at the school, without medical evidence, to be affirmed in whichever gender they choose.
Partisan literature had been distributed to parents under the direction of a Stonewall Champion working at the local authority, which did not include any detail on the risks a ‘trans affirming’ approach has to children.
Under the policy, Hannah was told that the 8-year-old girl joining their class must be treated as ‘transgender’, be ‘affirmed’ in her belief that she was ‘born in a wrong body’ and be allowed to use toilets and changing room facilities for boys.
The school’s approach went against official government guidance which cautions schools against relying on: “Materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used and you should not work with external agencies or organisations that produce such material.”
This guidance was not provided as part of the training given by the local authority to the school and parents.
Instead, in presentation materials saturated with ‘gender identity theory’, school staff were provided with guidance by the local authority which told them, for example, that gender confused children can be born in the wrong body, 80% of transgender children realise they are transgender before they leave primary school, and that the average age of ‘self-realisation’ takes place at 5 years-old.
Controversial and discredited transgender group Mermaids were also cited as a go-to authority on the issue for parents and carers.
Concerned, Hannah told the school bosses that as a Christian, she could not in good conscience participate in actions which could harm the child.
The teacher provided expert evidence detailing the ‘catastrophic’ consequences an affirmative approach has for gender confused children.
Following the meeting, Hannah was told not to come into the school and was then informed by email that the school had contacted the ‘emerging threats to children’ team at the local authority. The school said:
We have spent the last few days working together and consulting with Stonewall, HR, the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and the Legal department at the LA. The LA have sought guidance from the Diocese and Stonewall, and I wish to assure you that no names of individuals or the school have been provided to them.
A meeting was arranged in which we would discuss accommodation on the following terms:
• When interacting with the child or any other gender questioning pupil, you must use the name and pronouns the family have requested.
• You need to act professionally and within the school’s code of conduct and Equalities Policy and comply with GDPR.
• You should try to avoid contact or interaction with the child as much as possible, where such interaction would require you to use names or pronouns.
• We respect your own views, however these must not be discussed with children or staff.
• When answering questions the pupils may have, you must not breach confidentiality.
• When talking to parents, you must not talk about any other pupil and your response should be that it is not appropriate for you to discuss other pupils.
The Church of England’s ‘Valuing All God’s Children’ guidance on ‘transphobic’ bullying was used to discredit Christian beliefs on the issues.
The following week in September 2021, Hannah was suspended from work and threatened with a disciplinary investigation for “failing to comply with a reasonable management instructions”. After further discussion involving lawyers from Christian Legal Centre, the school lifted Hannah’s suspension and permitted Hannah to come back to work.
In October 2021, Hannah raised a formal safeguarding concern with the school’s governors, but this was dismissed and the evidence she presented not properly engaged with.
Hannah appealed this decision, but again the governors dismissed the concern after consulting the local authority.
In February 2022, Hannah raised her concerns with the local authority and flagged that the officer advising the school on transgender policies was a Stonewall champion.
Minutes from a meeting between this local authority officer, the school and the child’s parent ,who admitted that the child may be conflicted about whether they were the opposite gender, have revealed the LA officer stating that the child’s feelings were ‘perfectly natural’ and that their transition was like a bus journey ‘which we can get off at any point.’
Responding to Hannah’s concerns, the local authority said that it fully endorsed the school’s approach.
Hannah’s subsequent appeal was also dismissed.
Silenced, ignored, and without clarification as to how a teacher who is opposed to transgender affirmation can function in the classroom, Hannah faced no alternative but to get legal advice and pursue legal action.
For accessing and sharing information about Child X as part of receiving legal advice and raising serious safeguarding concerns, Hannah was investigated and brought before a governors disciplinary panel.
They concluded that she would be sacked for gross misconduct and: ‘Due to the serious professional concerns about your conduct it is appropriate to refer this case to the DBS and TRA for their consideration.’
Her lawyers say that Hannah had a legitimate interest in accessing and sharing this information as, despite no longer being Child X’s teacher, she was still a teacher of a class in the same year group as Child X.
She was also responsible for delivering assemblies, playground duty and going on residentials that would involve every child in that year group.
At all times Hannah acted in accordance with the school’s whistleblowing policy and believed she was acting in the child’s best interests.
Sharing details with her representative was a qualifying disclosure in that its purpose was related to the health and safety of an individual that is being endangered, specifically Child X.
In March 2023, however, the TRA confirmed that they would be carrying out an investigation. The school and LA allege that Hannah did not have consent from the school or the family involved to share information on Child X with her lawyers.
The school even reported her to the information commissioner suggesting that a criminal offence had been committed.
However, her lawyers say that safeguarding duties override the confidentiality duty and that there is no basis to suggest that a teacher cannot pursue legal action or raise safeguarding concerns without the permission of the school, the child and the child’s family.
Lawyers describe the referral and the decision by the TRA to investigate it as an ‘abuse of process.’
Following the dismissal, Hannah has now launched legal action against the school on the grounds of unfair dismissal, detriments on the grounds of protected disclosures and claims under the Equality Act 2010, including direct discrimination on the grounds of her Christian beliefs.
Lawyers will argue at a full Employment Tribunal hearing expected to take place in 2024 that the school has dismissed Hannah and reported her to various regulators for raising reasonable safeguarding concerns and making protected disclosures.
Notes to editors:
- Letter to Gillian Keegan, Education Secretary
- Expert evidence on transgender affirmation:
- Graham Rogers, M. Sc., (Southampton) M.Sc., (Goldsmiths, London) B.Sc. (Hons).,
(Lancaster) PGCE., Dip. REBT., C. Psychol., AFBPsS.
- Dr Paul Rodney McHugh, M.D.
- Quentin L. Van Meter, M.D., F.C.P.