Christian school worker fired for Facebook posts wins right to appeal

15 July 2021

A Christian pastoral administrator sacked for two Facebook posts that raised concerns about transgenderism and sex education at her son’s Church of England primary school has won the right to appeal her case.

In September 2020, Kristie Higgs, 45, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, had challenged her employer, Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire, for discrimination and harassment on the grounds of her Christian beliefs.

Having worked for 7 years as a pastoral assistant at Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire, Mrs Higgs was summarily dismissed in early 2020 after sharing a petition against the extension of relationship and sex education on her private Facebook case.

After an anonymous complaint attacked Mrs Higgs’s views as “homophobic and prejudiced”, the school promptly dismissed her for bringing the school into disrepute. Last October, Bristol Employment Tribunal rejected Mrs Higgs’s claim for religious discrimination.

 

However, His Honour Judge Tayler, sitting in the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London this week, has called that decision into question, as he granted Mrs Higgs permission to appeal. HHJ Tayler said: “This appeal potentially raises important issues on the approach to be adopted by the Tribunals to manifestation and expression of beliefs”.

The Judge directed that the appeal be listed in ‘Category A’, which means the case is complex and raises points of law of public importance, and will be heard by a full three-member panel.

Barrister Richard O’Dair, representing Mrs Higgs, argued: “It is not transphobic to have doubts about gender reassignment for children”. In his submissions, Mr O’Dair described Bristol Employment Tribunal’s conclusions as “perverse” and “not a view to which one can come if one has a proper understanding of free speech”.

HHJ Tayler is best known for his earlier decision in the case of Maya Forstater, where he held that her sceptical view of transgenderism was not “worthy or respect in a democratic society” or protected by anti-discrimination law. That judgment has been recently overturned by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Responding to the ruling, Mrs Higgs said: “I am delighted that the judge has granted us permission to appeal. I have to continue to fight for justice so that no one else has to go through what I have. I want parents to have the freedom to bring their children up in line with their Christian beliefs, I want young children to be protected from this harmful ideology. Christians must also to be able to share their opinions and beliefs without fear of losing their jobs.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “The story of Kristie Higgs should concern all of us who care about the freedom to be a Christian believer in the UK. We are pleased the judge has granted permission to appeal this crucial case.”

Find out more about Kristie Higgs
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