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Teacher fired after opposing school's trans affirmation policies can’t seek judicial review: judge

Classroom
A teacher conducts a class at a public U.S. elementary school. |

A High Court judge in the United Kingdom refused permission for a judicial review sought by a primary school teacher fired after voicing safeguarding concerns about her school's affirmation of an 8-year-old trans-identified student.

Last Monday, Justice Judith Farbey at Birmingham Civil and Family Justice Center refused the appeal by an East Midlands teacher identified only as Hannah for legal reasons by the Christian Legal Centre, an Evangelical legal organization supporting her case.

"This court will not engage with any of the advantages or disadvantages of any education policy," Farbey wrote in her decision, adding that she doesn't believe that the teacher has the standing to bring a judicial review.

"The claimant in this case does not teach Child X," Farbey added. "She has in the past had a personal dispute with the school about how she could or should treat Child X but that has been resolved. By bringing these proceedings, she seeks to ventilate what she calls 'substantive safeguarding concerns' about Child X. In doing so, she does not claim to represent Child X. As a matter of law, she cannot represent Child X’s interests because she has not sought the court’s permission to do so."

Farbey also stated that "[The] public is divided on the issue of transgenderism in schools and there is no consensus on the approach."

Hannah filed the request for a judicial review over the refusal of her school's governing body and local authority to address her transgender safeguarding concerns.

In September 2021, the school implemented a gender-affirmation policy after a child, who was expected to join Hannah's class, expressed a desire to change her gender. She refused to call the student by a boy's name because it was "against her Christian beliefs," and she believed it would cause the child long-term harm.

"Injustice has not been done against me but against all the children in our schools," said Hannah in a statement shared by CLC. "How else am I meant to raise the danger of the trans-affirming policies in our schools which are doing such damage?"

The child's parents wanted no other children or parents in the school to know their biological sex. The school policy appeared to allow any child at the school, without medical evidence, to be affirmed in whichever gender they choose, CLC contends. 

The child was also reportedly supported in the gender transition by Mermaids, a charity that the Department for Education in England stopped recommending as a mental health and wellbeing resource for schools earlier this month.

The school told Hannah that she had "no choice" but to affirm "Child X" through gender transition or face the consequences. The teacher was suspended and told she could not share her Christian beliefs in the school or her view, after detailed research, that a trans-affirming approach to gender confusion leads to long-term harm. Hannah was later fired for gross misconduct.

She has also been reported to the Teacher Regulation Agency. CLC claims she may never be allowed to work as a teacher again.

Farbey also took issue with how long it took for the teacher to file a legal claim. 

"The claimant took months to start proceedings in court against the school," the ruling states. "She did not even arguably bring proceedings promptly. I would therefore also have refused permission to apply for judicial review against the school on grounds of delay."

The teacher plans to appeal the judge's refusal and may also appeal her dismissal by the school next month. According to CLC, if Hannah's repeal is rejected, "a full employment tribunal case will follow."

"Teachers are being discouraged from questioning trans affirming policies when evidence shows that the actual result of the approach is to put the welfare of children at serious risk," Hannah said. "More must be done to protect vulnerable children across the country from long-term mental, emotional and irreversible physical damage inflicted upon them by this dangerous ideology."

The Times reports that the U.K. Charity Commission is assessing complaints against Mermaids following a report by The Daily Telegraph that the group sends "chest binders" to girls as young as 13 without their parents' knowledge.

Binders are often used by girls seeking to flatten their breasts to resemble a boy, and they can potentially cause breathing difficulties, damage healthy breast tissue and lead to cracked ribs.

Last month, parents Nigel Rowe, 49, and his wife, Sally, 47, who pulled their children out of a church-run school due to its guidance on trans-identified students, were awarded over $23,900 in legal costs and a commitment from the British government to reform trans-affirming policies in schools.

The victory for the parents, who raised concerns after two boys in their sons' classes at the age of 6 were allowed to identify as girls at the Isle of Wight school, came after a five-year legal battle.

The parents urged the Church of England to change the guidance for its 4,700 primary schools, allowing students as young as 5 to self-identify as the opposite sex.

In an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, they raised concerns regarding the implementation of guidance that allows school children to identify as their preferred gender identity.

"Basic Christian teaching is that we are all created male or female and that the differences between the sexes are beautiful, designed and complementary, and should be respected in society," the Christian parents wrote. "We were also concerned for the harmful effects on the children who were allowed to socially transition, as well as the effects on all the other children in the school."

At issue was a guidance titled "Valuing All God's Children," originally issued in May 2014 but later updated by the CofE in the summer of 2019. The guidance states: "Trans young people may require specific support in order to feel comfortable at school, for example, schools may need to make changes to toilet facilities or a trans young person might require support to change their name or the pronoun by which they are referred to by staff and classmates."

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