The Nottinghamshire County Council in England is demanding a dismissed teacher pay £14,000 ($17,000) in legal costs for the judicial review she pursued after she was fired for raising concerns about policies requiring teachers to affirm their students' chosen gender identity.
The teacher, identified in court documents as "Hannah," had worked at a primary school for seven years without issue until she voiced her concerns about an 8-year-old trans-identified student's transition, says the U.K.-based Christian Legal Centre, which supports the teacher.
The council and the school argued that Hannah breached confidentiality by bringing the case against them, which resulted in her dismissal and reports of the alleged breach to several authorities, including the Disclosure and Barring Service, the Information Commissioner and the Teaching Regulatory Authority, the group said.
While the DBS and the Information Commissioner found no evidence supporting the allegations against Hannah and decided to take no action, an ongoing TRA investigation has prevented her from continuing her teaching career. As a result, she had to find a job at a sandwich bar.
Christian Legal Centre says the council is now seeking immediate payment of their legal costs, proposing Hannah re-mortgage her home to cover the debt.
The legal battle has been financially draining for Hannah, who argues that enforcing the costs order would be unlawful under whistleblowing legislation.
The High Court rejected Hannah's bid for a judicial review, ruling that she lacked standing to challenge safeguarding failures relating to Child X because the school moved the child to a different class. The Court of Appeal affirmed that Hannah should bear the council's legal costs last month.
The case originated from instructions given by the council to the school staff to refer to Child X by male pronouns and allow the child to use boys' facilities.
In September 2021, the school where Hannah taught adopted a new policy that required faculty and staff to affirm the chosen gender identity of a child, including allowing boys who chose to identify as female to enter the girls' restrooms.
The school also reportedly cited the controversial advocacy group Mermaids as an authoritative resource. The teacher was told to affirm the chosen gender identity of Child X, even though it was not the child's actual sex.
When Hannah objected to this, citing both her religious beliefs and research indicating that gender affirmation can be harmful, the school suspended her and eventually fired her. She also cited concerns that such measures could harm the child, both in the short and long term.
She utilized the school's and council's whistleblowing procedures to challenge the trans-affirming approach, arguing it wasn't grounded in medical evidence and contradicted safeguarding procedures.
Andrea Williams, CLC's chief executive, said the courts "have sent a clear message that teachers concerned about the gender transition of a child and the impact it has on other pupils, cannot bring a legal challenge, or have the decisions of the school and local authority involved, properly scrutinized."
"Hannah's is not an isolated case. Any teacher who dares to raise an issue around the promotion of LGBTQ ideologies in schools or more specifically the safety and well-being of children exhibiting distress over gender or sexual identity is likely to face sanction and dismissal."
Hannah has also launched an Employment Tribunal claim for whistleblowing, unfair dismissal and religious discrimination. The tribunal is set to hear the case in August 2024.
This comes amid growing concerns about transgender and gender identity ideologies in U.K. schools, as outlined in a report published by the Policy Exchange, entitled "Asleep at the Wheel: An Examination of Gender and Safeguarding in Schools."