OXFORD, U.K. — A math teacher in the U.K. who was recently punished for saying “Well done, girls” to a group of students in forgetting that one of the girls prefers to be identified as a boy has taken his case to an employment tribunal.
Following an investigation, Joshua Sutcliffe, an associate pastor at Christ Revelation Church in Oxford, was found to have “contravened the school’s equality policy” by “demonstrating discriminatory behaviors.” The suspended teacher was to have faced a disciplinary hearing, which was postponed as officials added on accusations of breach of confidence and bringing disrepute on the school for taking the matter public.
Sutcliffe has now written a letter to the headmaster of Cherwell School, where he has taught since 2015, to outline his grievances.
“As a Christian, I do not share your belief in the ideology of transgenderism. I do not believe that young children should be encouraged to self-select a ‘gender’ which may be different from their biological sex; or that everyone at school should adjust their behavior to accommodate such a ‘transition’; or that people should be punished for lack of enthusiasm about it,” he wrote.
“I am more than willing to answer all the unjustified allegations you are now advancing against me, and detail my own grievances about your totalitarian ‘equality’ policies and practices. However, I intend to do so before an independent tribunal, not before yourselves acting as a judge and jury in your own case,” Sutcliffe continued. “I regret that our relations have reached this point, but I feel I have no choice but to bring legal proceedings against you without further notice.”
As previously reported, a complaint was filed against Sutcliffe on Nov. 2 after inadvertently remarking “Well done, girls” to a work group within 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 situations where a student identifies as the opposite sex, but tried to handle the matter with balance in not compromising his convictions but also not being inflammatory.
As he will not violate his Christian faith by referring to any student as something they are not—and he wasn’t sure what to do with the delicate situation—Sutcliffe carefully avoided using any pronouns at all. He simply referred to the student by her preferred name.
“[I] refrained from using any pronouns because I wasn’t really sure [what to do],” Sutcliffe told the organization Christian Concern. “I know it’s a sensitive issue, and I didn’t want it to affect the learning environment.”
However, one day, he accidentally used the word “girls” in praising the math skills of some students in one of his classes.
“Well done, girls,” Sutcliffe complimented.
Sutcliffe said that he was simply encouraging the students for doing a good job 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.
According to the Daily Mail, the parents also claimed that Sutcliffe had given the student an inordinate number of detentions for improper behavior, but the assertion was not substantiated during the investigation that soon followed.
However, officials still concluded that Sutcliffe had violated the school’s equality policy by “misgendering” the student.
As part of his complaint before the employment tribunal, Sutcliffe contends that he was also treated unfairly in another matter as the Bible club that he ran at the school, which was attended by over 100 students, was shut down. Officials reportedly stated that it was because he needed to register and provide a curriculum, but the club was still not allowed to continue after Sutcliffe submitted the requested documentation. Sutcliffe says that, conversely, the LGBT, mindfulness and Qigong clubs were permitted to proceed although unregistered.
“All these events, starting from the suppression and termination of my Bible club and ending with these oppressive disciplinary proceedings against me, have convinced me that the school is fundamentally hostile to my Christian faith, and has breached the trust and confidence between us,” he wrote in his letter to headmaster Chris Price.
While the school has declined to comment on the case, Price told the Oxford Mail, “This school takes issues of equality and discrimination seriously, whether they be issues to do with religious belief or gender identity.”