Press Release

Tribunal to hear appeal of Christian mother sacked for sharing a petition against compulsory sex education

28 February 2022         Issued by: Christian Concern

Tomorrow, a Christian school worker is set to appeal her sacking for two Facebook posts that raised concerns about transgenderism and sex education at her son’s Church of England primary school.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Kristie Higgs, 45, will have her appeal heard at the Employment Appeal Tribunal, London, on the 1 – 2 March.

In October 2020, Bristol Employment Tribunal ruled against Higgs’s claims for discrimination and harassment on the grounds of her Christian beliefs in connection with her 2018 sacking from Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire.

Having worked for 7 years as a pastoral assistant at the school, Mrs Higgs was summarily dismissed in early 2019 after sharing a petition against the extension of relationship and sex education on her private Facebook page.

Mrs Higgs’s had shared two posts in response to the Church of England primary school attended by her youngest son adopting the controversial ‘No Outsiders’ teaching about sexual minorities.

After an anonymous complaint attacked Mrs Higgs’s views as “homophobic and prejudiced”, the School dismissed her for allegedly bringing the school into disrepute.

During a six-hour disciplinary hearing, a school governor likened her posts to those of a pro-Nazi, far-Right extremist.

Another governor told her she had no ‘absolute right’ to freedom of speech.

Launching legal action, the Tribunal hearing that followed concluded that her dismissal was not related to the Christian beliefs she expressed on social media, such as her opposition to sex education in primary schools or to the idea of gender fluidity.

Rather, her dismissal “was the result of a genuine belief on the part of the School that she had committed gross misconduct.”

The ruling said that her beliefs are protected by the Equality Act, however, it claimed that Mrs Higgs was dismissed because some of the content in the articles she linked to could lead someone to think that Kristie “was hostile towards the LBGT community, and trans people in particular”, despite there being no evidence of this.

Ironically, the ruling was made shortly after new Government guidelines restricted the Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum to prevent the LGBT indoctrination of children – vindicating the protests of parents such as Mrs Higgs.

The appeal

Barrister Richard O’Dair, representing Mrs Higgs, argued before appeal was granted that: “It is not transphobic to have doubts about gender reassignment for children” and described the tribunal’s conclusions as “perverse” and “not a view to which one can come if one has a proper understanding of free speech”.

This week, Mrs Higgs’s lawyers will now appeal on the grounds that in affirming the school’s position, the Employment Tribunal erred in law and demonstrated a manifestly incorrect understanding of freedom of speech.

Lawyers will argue that no reasonable and informed person, having read the Mrs Higgs’s posts, could conclude anything other than that the posts were a critique of a certain approach to education, whether held by members of the LGBT community or non-LGBT secular liberals.

Seeking justice

Ahead of the hearing, Mrs Higgs said: “I was punished for sharing concerns about Relationships and Sex Education. I hold these views because of my Christian beliefs, beliefs and views which are shared by hundreds of thousands of parents across the UK.

“My number one concern has always been the effect that learning about sex and gender in school will have on children at such a young age. I have not discriminated against anyone, and never would.

 ‘I was raising concerns about my son being educated in matters that are not aligned with my religious beliefs and people could choose to agree or disagree. I would never tell others what to think.

‘My bigger worry was that they were introducing the confusing idea of changing gender to children at such a young age, in a Church of England primary school.

“I am disappointed that the Church of England has failed to come out and support me and instead appear to be endorsing gender confusion in their primary schools.

“I am encouraged that the Tribunal will hear my appeal and pray for justice this week.”

Christian freedom at stake

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “The previous judgment in this case should concern all of us who care about the freedom to be a Christian believer in the UK.

“Kristie has supposedly been dismissed, not for the posts she made, but for a deliberately distorted and unkind interpretation of the content that she linked to.

“Even though her post was private to her family and friends she is being held responsible for what others might do with it. Even though no one actually thinks or claimed that Kristie holds hateful views, she was fired because one anonymous ‘friend’ said they were and because others might think the same.

“It is clear no actual harm has come to the school’s reputation as a result of her posts, but that she has been sacked as if it had. The posts were not even in relation to the secondary school but about the books being read in her son’s primary school.

“This hearing has exposed a clear injustice and we will support Kristie for as long as it takes to overturn this judgment.”

Two Facebook posts

Mrs Higgs’s ordeal began in October 2018 when the Church of England primary school attended by her youngest son adopted ‘No Outsiders’ teaching about sexual minorities.

In late October 2018, mother of two, Mrs Higgs, shared two posts on her private Facebook page, that made no mention of her employer, under her maiden name.

The first post encouraged friends and family to sign a petition challenging the government’s plans to introduce Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) to children in primary schools.

The post flagged that a government consultation on plans to make RSE mandatory for children as young as four was coming to a close, and asked its readers to sign a nationwide petition calling on the government to uphold the rights of parents to have children educated in line with their religious beliefs.

A similar petition was subsequently signed by over 115,000 people and was debated in parliament.

In the second post, Mrs Higgs shared an article from on the rise of transgender ideology in children’s books in American schools and added her own comment: “This is happening in our primary schools now.”

The article critiqued the same LGBT ‘No Outsiders’ books promoting transgenderism to children that Mrs Higgs had discovered were being introduced in her son’s Church of England primary school.

Anonymous complaint

The following weekend, Matthew Evans, the headteacher of Farmor’s School, received an anonymous complaint which described the posts as ‘homophobic and prejudiced to the LGBT community’.

In response, Mr Evans asked the complainant to find more “offensive posts” on Mrs Higgs’s Facebook page, and promised to take immediate action.

The following week, despite the posts being only visible to her friends, Mrs Higgs was pulled into a meeting by Mr Evans.

Mr Evans read a letter out telling her that she would be suspended and that an investigation would follow for gross misconduct. Told she had to leave the premises, Mrs Higgs, shaking and tearful, collected her things and left the school grounds.

An investigation into her conduct was launched, which involved Mrs Higgs being questioned on why she had used her school email to receive ‘inspirational’ quotations from the Bible.

The investigation culminated just days before Christmas when Mrs Higgs was asked to attend a disciplinary hearing at a hotel.

‘Pro-Nazi right-wing extremist’

For six hours until 8pm, Mrs Higgs was subjected to intimidating questioning by the panel of three governors, supported by three other members of staff. Her posts were compared to ‘pro-Nazi’ views, and she was accused of intolerance.

When she tried to explain the context of her Christian beliefs she was told: “keep your religion out of it.” Mrs Higgs argued that her aim had been merely to raise awareness among parents of the Government’s education plans and the transgender books being taught in primary schools.

The academy concluded, however, that Mrs Higgs would be dismissed for: ‘illegal discrimination’, ‘serious inappropriate use of social media’, and ‘online comments that could bring the school into disrepute and damage the reputation of the school.’

Notes to editors

Employment Tribunal judgment, October 2020:

Government guidance on RSE, November 2020:

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