Joshua Sutcliffe, the 27-year-old Oxford England math teacher suspended from his job for calling a girl a girl, is suing his employer for constructive dismissal and religious discrimination.
Sutcliffe, who is also a Christian pastor, came under investigation by the school after saying ‘well done, girls’ to a group which included the offended biologically female student. The student protested, and Sutcliffe immediately apologized.
Unfortunately, a fast apology wasn’t the end of the story.
Sutcliffe says he thought no more of the matter until he was called to the ‘head’s office’ and informed there had been a complaint filed against him from the parents of the student, for transgender issues. He was promptly suspended from teaching while an investigation took place.
Sutcliffe was told to sit in the staff room each day and prepare work but was forbidden to discuss the situation with any colleagues. He later discovered that, in addition to his offense of ‘misgendering’ of the student, the parents claimed he gave this pupil an unfair number of detentions for poor behavior. This claim was later found to be false during the investigation.
“I was absolutely shocked to be told by the head that I was under investigation,” Sutcliffe said. “It was surreal, Kafkaesque.”
Sutcliffe said he was always careful to address the student with respect, using the child’s name rather than he or him pronouns.
“It seemed to me that the school was trying to force me to adhere to its liberal, leftish agenda,” he added.
Sutcliffe assumed the investigation would be a simple matter and relatively brief, but says he was questioned for an hour on the day after the meeting and then again a few days later. He eventually received notice of a formal disciplinary hearing. He told the senior staff who conducted the investigation that his private belief was that it was not wrong to call a person born female a girl, but he would never do that publicly because he was a professional. He claimed, again, this was an accident for which he had already apologized.
The investigation concluded that his ‘misgendering’ of the pupil, and ‘avoidance of using gendered pronouns contravened the school’s Code of Conduct with regard to demonstrating an awareness of sexual and cultural diversity of students and use of insensitive comments towards young people…demonstrates failure to comply with school policies.’
Sutcliffe, a math teacher was ultimately suspended from his job. Sutcliffe claims he received no formal training on how to refer to this specific pupil .or any trans student The students he taught range in age from 11-18; a quick search indicates he achieved excellent results with his students outperforming comparable classes.
Despite his seemingly bleak situation, public support for Sutcliffe remains strong.
When Sutcliffe’s story went public in November, there was an outcry of national support for the teacher. This apparently resulted in the school initiating further investigation against him. The school now alleges breach of confidence and bringing the school into disrepute.
Sutcliffe has countered that the school has ‘systematically and maliciously’ breached his rights, and has made it impossible for him to continue working for it. He is now being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
According to Andrea Williams, chief executive, “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 sexual and gender ideology being imposed on our children in schools.”
“We all know how much we change during our teenage years,” Williams continues. “It is vital that during those years we help our children to live in the biological sex they were born…If we encourage them to change gender it is not kind and compassionate, it is cruel.’
In a statement, the Christian Legal Centre reiterates that Mr. Sutcliffe received no formal training on how to refer to the pupil, and it referred to transgender as a ‘delusion’.
“The child had self-declared as ‘male’ but Mr. Sutcliffe, who had no formal instruction on how he was to refer to the pupil, said ‘Well done, girls’ in her presence. When the pupil became irate, Mr. Sutcliffe sought to diffuse the situation and apologized. Nonetheless, an investigation began, during which time Mr. Sutcliffe was prevented from teaching and forced to spend all his time in isolation in the staff room.”
The school head said it would not be appropriate to comment on confidential staff disciplinary matters and no statement about a court date has been issued by either party.
~ Liberty Planet