An employment tribunal in southwest England rejected the appeal of a Christian teacher who said she was harassed, discriminated against and fired over private Facebook posts raising concerns about transgenderism and sex education at her son’s Church of England primary school.
Kristie Higgs, 44, a mother of two, was dismissed for gross misconduct last year after Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire, where she worked, received an anonymous complaint against her for sharing and commenting on posts that criticized relationship education based on the Equality Act at her son’s Church of England primary school in 2018.
In his ruling this week, Employment Judge Derek Reed said: “We concluded that not only the dismissal but the entire proceedings taken against Mrs. Higgs were motivated by a concern on the part of the school that, by reason of her posts, she would be perceived as holding unacceptable views in relation to gay and trans people — views which in fact she vehemently denied that she did hold,” according to The Telegraph.
The tribunal also said that Higgs’ Christian beliefs on sexual ethics did not amount to homophobia or transphobia.
Higgs disagrees with the judgment and plans to appeal the decision.
“I strongly maintain that I lost my job because of my Christian beliefs, beliefs which our society does not appear to tolerate or even understand anymore,” she told the British daily.
“Ironically, the decision has been made shortly after new Government guidelines have restricted the Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum to prevent the LGBT indoctrination of children — vindicating the protests of parents such as Mrs. Higgs,” evangelical advocacy group Christian Concern said in response to the Tribunal's decision.
The Christian Legal Centre is supporting the Christian teacher’s legal battle. The group’s chief executive Andrea Williams said: “This judgment should concern all of us who care about the freedom to be a Christian believer in the U.K. Even though no one actually thinks or claimed that Kristie holds hateful views, she is being fired because one anonymous ‘friend’ said they were and because others might think the same.”
Higgs shared two posts in late October 2018 on her private Facebook page with no mention of her employer and under her maiden name.
In her first post, she urged her friends and family to sign a petition against the government’s plans to introduce Relationships and Sex Education to children as young as age 4 in primary schools.
A similar petition was later signed by over 115,000 people and was also debated in Parliament. As a result, the Department of Education recently published new RSE guidance.
In her second post, the teacher shared an article from Judybeth.com on the rise of transgender ideology in children’s books taught in American schools. She commented, “This is happening in our primary schools now.”
A week after the posts, Matthew Evans, the headteacher of Farmor’s School, received an anonymous complaint, according to Christian Concern.
“The following week, despite the posts being only visible to her friends, Mrs. Higgs was pulled into a meeting by Mr. Evans,” the group said. “Mr. Evans read a letter out telling her that she would be suspended and that an investigation would follow for gross misconduct. ... An investigation into her conduct was launched, which involved Mrs. Higgs being questioned on why she had used her school email to receive ‘inspirational’ quotations from the Bible. The investigation culminated just days before Christmas when Mrs. Higgs was asked to attend a disciplinary hearing at a hotel.”
During the investigation, her posts were compared to “pro-Nazi” views, and she was accused of intolerance, the group said.
“Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to believe that I lost the job I loved because of my Christian beliefs,” Higgs said. “It’s hard to believe that the school would take one anonymous complaint and escalate it to all this. Where was the school’s tolerance and kindness to me? Where was the school’s attempt to understand my point of view?”