OXFORD, U.K. — A math teacher in the U.K. has been suspended and faces possible further disciplinary action after he said “Well done, girls” to a group of students in forgetting that one of the girls prefers to be identified as a boy.
Joshua Sutcliffe is a teacher at Cherwell School in Oxford, and is also a pastor at Christ Revelation Church. He teaches three classes—an estimated 150 students—each day, and has excelled with his Key Stage 3 students. Sutcliffe’s students range in age from 11-18.
However, on Nov. 2, a complaint was filed against Sutcliffe after remarking “Well done, girls,” to his class as one of the female students identifies as a boy. Sutcliffe says that he was never advised by the school how to treat the situation, but tried to handle the matter with balance in not compromising his convictions but also not being inflammatory.
“[I] refrained from using any pronouns because I wasn’t really sure [what to do],” he told the organization Christian Concern. “I know it’s a sensitive issue, and I didn’t want it to affect the learning environment.”
Sutcliffe said that he was simply encouraging his students for doing a good job one day and was not thinking about how the girl preferred to be identified as a boy. Although he apologized to the student for what he calls a “slip of the tongue,” the child’s parents filed a complaint and Sutcliffe was consequently suspended for “misgendering” the student.
Sutcliffe is now under investigation and faces a disciplinary hearing about the matter.
“I have been shocked and saddened by the actions of the school, which, in my opinion, reflect an increasing trend of seeing Christians, people like me, being marginalized in the public square, and our beliefs punished and silenced,” he said in a statement.
“The aggressive way in which transgender ideology is being imposed is undermining my freedom of belief and conscience, as well as the conscience of many people throughout our nation who believe that gender is assigned at birth,” Sutcliffe lamented.
He reiterated that he did not intentionally target the student in saying “Well done, girls” to the group as a whole.
“While the suggestion that gender is fluid conflicts sharply with my Christian beliefs, I recognize my responsibility as a teacher and Christian to treat each of my pupils with respect and dignity,” Sutcliffe stated. “I have never looked to impose my convictions on others, I just try to earnestly live out the gospel of peace.”
The school has declined to comment on the matter at this time.