Christian Punished for ‘Misgendering’ Student Sues School

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by Anita Carey  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  December 11, 2017   

Joshua Sutcliffe: "The school has jeopardized my teaching career"

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OXFORD, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - A math teacher has lost his job and is forced to sue his former employer after he was blacklisted for accidentally "misgendering" a student.
 
Joshua Sutcliffe, an outspoken Christian pastor and math teacher at an Oxfordshire school, is out of a job and facing a black mark on his record after he accidentally said, "Well done, girls," to a group of students that included a gender-confused girl who identifies as a boy. Sutcliffe told Church Militant he was "constructively dismissed," adding, "The school was making things very difficult. I earnestly tried to get back into the school, but the school was being oppressive." 

Sutcliffe admitted he was looking for justice for the constructive dismissal. "The school has jeopardized my teaching career," he said, adding, "they are more concerned with getting rid of me than they are with my math class." He said he filed the lawsuit because he fears he will not be able to teach because the school has "manipulated the investigation" and is trying to "smear" his name. 

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In November, Sutcliffe was reprimanded and isolated from students and staff while administrators investigated the incident. After media reports resulted in backlash for the school, the school postponed the disciplinary hearing and started a new investigation, alleging he was guilty of "breach of confidence and bringing the school into disrepute." 

Church Militant obtained a copy of Sutcliffe's resignation letter where he accused them of presuming him to be guilty of misconduct and noted the investigations are "unashamedly designed to silence me from speaking out about your malpractices."

Sutcliffe noted that the school viewed as "misconduct" his expression of his opinion and calls from concerned citizens constituted the tarnishing of the school's reputation. "Surely the fact that others felt strongly enough to write to you with their concerns should cause some pause and reflection of whether your treatment of me has been correct." 

Sutcliffe also explained that the investigation found that the allegations that he discriminated against the transgender student and criticized the law on same-sex marriage during math lessons were untrue. He said in his resignation that he only went to the media after "it became clear to me that the school was hostile to my Christian beliefs, and that as a Christian, I had no protection within the school against unlawful discrimination and harassment."

He explained his position in the letter:

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.

"Implementation of these ideas is detrimental to the welfare of children, which I believe should be a paramount consideration," Sutcliffe wrote. His opinion is shared with a number of professionals, most notably, the president of the American College of Pediatricians, Dr. Michelle Cretella. 

Doctor Cretella has been on a campaign to reject "all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex." She uses the harshest terms to explain transition protocols to address gender dysphoria: "Chemical castration and the surgical mutilation of children is not 'therapy.' It is cold, calculated, institutionalized child abuse at the hands of those charged with healing."

It is cold, calculated, institutionalized child abuse at the hands of those charged with healing.

Andrea Williams, legal counsel for Sutcliffe and chief executive of the Christian Legal Center, said in a statement that this 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."

"What we need is a culture in our schools which gives emotional support to children through puberty without encouraging them to make life-long decisions against their natural born biological sex," Williams said. "If we encourage them to change gender, it is not kind and compassionate; it is cruel."

"If we collude in the transgender delusion we do not serve our children well, we harm them," Williams said.

They required more than that — active and enthusiastic support and denunciation of his own faith and conscience.

A recent study published in the Review of Religion Research backs up Williams observations. The study notes that anti-Christian sentiment is held by politically liberal, highly educated and increasing richer people. George Yancey, the study's author and sociologist, writes that Christians "are clearly incorrect in the notion that hostility towards conservative Christians has increased over the past few decades," adding, "But if those with anti-Christian hostility have gained economic power, then Christian activists may be correct in that they now pay a stiffer price for that animosity." 

Yancey explains his findings; the combination of persecutors' abilities to threaten Christians' financial well-being and the lack of support provided by other Christians increases the perceived hostility Christians feel. "Conservative Christians are incorrect asserting that Christian hostility recently dramatically increased but may be correct in asserting that they face more problems due to that hostility," he writes.

Sutcliffe told Church Militant that he has "been meeting with Christians in the community, and they have been very supportive." He said he is actively looking for work but still has some short-term needs that he needs help with.  He said the ordeal has strengthened his faith, adding, "this is to be expected of those who love the Lord."

"No court dates have been set yet," Pavel Stroilov, a legal spokesman for Christian Legal Centre, told Church Militant. He added "We will argue that the case has wider implications for religious freedom" and explained:  

Mr. Sutcliffe faced disciplinary proceedings and constructively dismissed for failing to give his active support to the ideology of transgenderism, which is fundamentally contrary to his Christian convictions. His employer was not satisfied with mere passive obedience, with his efforts to remain professional and respectful towards the student in question, and his reluctance to argue his own view of the matter. They required more than that — active and enthusiastic support and denunciation of his own faith and conscience. That is not something that can happen in a free society; indeed, that is quintessentially totalitarian.

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