A Christian school worker is to challenge a Gloucestershire school academy’s decision to dismiss her for gross misconduct.
Mother-of-two, Kristie Higgs, was dismissed after she shared two Facebook posts that raised concerns about Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) at another school in the same village – her own child’s Church of England primary school.
Kristie who had been working at the Gloucestershire academy for six years as a pastoral assistant, was told following an investigation and a six hour hearing that she would be dismissed without notice.
Concerns about RSE
What had Kristie done? Earlier last year, her child’s Church of England Primary School sent out a letter informing parents it was adopting the ‘No Outsiders’ programme, which challenges the Christian understanding of family and openly promotes LGBT lifestyles to children as young as four.
After attending a meeting at the school to find out more about the programme, Kristie decided to express her concerns on Facebook. She shared two posts, the first beginning,“Please read this they are brainwashing our children! Please sign this petition, they have already started to brainwash our innocent wonderfully created children and it’s happening in our local primary school now.”
Kristie urged her friends to sign a nationwide petition opposing the government’s proposals to make Relationships and Sex Education (RSE)compulsory for children as young as four. The issue was subsequently debated in parliament.
In her second post, Kristie re-shared an article on the rise of transgender ideology in children’s books in American schools, adding that: “This is happening in our primary schools now.”
Both posts were visible only to her friends. Nevertheless, they were reported to the school where she worked – Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire, and following an investigation, Kristie was dismissed for gross misconduct.
Reasons given by the school for her dismissal were: ‘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.’
However, the conclusions by the school were unfounded and the Christian Legal Centre is now supporting Kristie as she challenges the school for wrongful dismissal and discrimination.
In the conclusion to Kristie’s hearing, she was told in writing that: “Regarding bringing the school into disrepute…we agree that there is no direct evidence that as a matter of fact that the reputation of the school has been damaged to date.”
When Kristie asked who she had discriminated against, she was told by the school: “you had not directly discriminated against one person, rather it was about the words you had used that could be perceived as discrimination.”
‘It has everything to do with my religion’
“I have been 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.
“As soon as the investigation into the posts began, I was repeatedly told: ‘this is nothing to do with your religion.’ That was clearly a legal tactic and of course it has everything to do with my religion. I am determined to fight this case and to stand for Christians and all parents across the country who are being silenced for sharing and holding these views.”
“This is all about the freedom of a Christian to hold Biblical views on sexuality”
‘Kind, loving and courageous’
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, added:
“This case is about the freedom to hold Christian views about what it means to be human. Many Christians have faced pressure for expressing these views in the workplace before, but in this case, Kristie has been dismissed for sharing her views among friends on Facebook.
“What Kristie shared on Facebook simply reflects the genuine and justified concerns of a parent about the sexual ideology currently being imposed on her own children and thousands of children across the UK.
“Kristie has not only lost her job, but her whole career is now tarnished with the accusation that for holding these views she is now a danger to vulnerable children. This is despite an exemplary record at the school and in her work with youth in the wider community. If Kristie does not win this case, due to one complaint, she will never be able to work with children again.
“Kristie is a kind, loving and courageous woman, and we will stand side by side with her as she fights for justice.”
Please pray for Kristie, her family and our legal team. We will keep you updated on developments.