A British tribunal has rejected the claims of discrimination and harassment from a woman in connection with her dismissal for two Facebook posts that raised concerns about transgenderism and sex education at her son’s Church of England primary school.
Bristol Employment Tribunal has ruled against Kristie Higgs, ironically making the decision 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 Kristie.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Higgs, 44, challenged her employer, Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire, for discrimination and harassment on the grounds of her Christian beliefs.
Nevertheless, the Tribunal has concluded that Kristie’s dismissal by Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire, was not related to the Christian beliefs she expressed on social media, such as her opposition to sex education in primary schools or to the idea of gender fluidity.
Rather, her dismissal “was the result of a genuine belief on the part of the School that she had committed gross misconduct”, says Employment Judge Reed.
The judgment reads:
“Although not stated as clearly or simply as this, the act of which we concluded Mrs Higgs was accused and eventually found guilty was posting items on Facebook that might reasonably lead people who read her posts to conclude that she was homophobic and transphobic … That behaviour, the School felt, had the potential for a negative impact in relation to various groups of people, namely pupils, parents, staff and the wider community.”
The Tribunal has acknowledged that Kristie’s Christian beliefs on sexual ethics do not equate to homophobia or transphobia. The judgment notes:
“she told us she ‘loved everyone’ and there was no reason to believe she would behave towards any person in a way such as to deliberately and gratuitously upset or offend them.”
However, the Tribunal agreed with the School’s position that it was concerned that readers of her Facebook posts would see them as homophobic and transphobic rather than merely an expression of Christian beliefs “in a temperate and rational way”.
According to Christian Concern, her case centered around two Facebook posts.
In late October 2018, mother of two, Mrs Higgs, who for seven years had worked at the school without any complaints, shared two posts on her private Facebook page, that made no mention of her employer, under her maiden name.
The first post encouraged friends and family to sign a petition challenging the government’s plans to introduce Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) to children in primary schools.
The post flagged that a government consultation on plans to make RSE mandatory for children as young as four was coming to a close, and asked its readers to sign a nationwide petition calling on the government to uphold the rights of parents to have children educated in line with their religious beliefs.
A similar petition was subsequently signed by over 115,000 people and was debated in parliament.
In the second post, Mrs Higgs shared an article from Judybeth.com on the rise of transgender ideology in children’s books in American schools and added her own comment: ‘This is happening in our primary schools now’.
The article critiqued the same LGBT ‘No Outsiders’ books promoting transgenderism to children that Mrs Higgs had discovered were being introduced in her son’s Church of England primary school.
The following weekend, Matthew Evans, the head teacher of the school where Mrs Higgs worked, received an anonymous complaint which described the posts as ‘homophobic and prejudiced to the LGBT community’. In response, Mr Evans asked the complainant to find more “offensive posts” on Mrs Higgs’s Facebook page, and promised to take immediate action.
The following week, despite the posts being only visible to her friends, Mrs Higgs was pulled into a meeting by Mr Evans.
Mr Evans read a letter out telling her that she would be suspended and that an investigation would follow for gross misconduct. Told she had to leave the premises, Mrs Higgs, shaking and tearful, collected her things and left the school grounds.
Kristie, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, now intends to appeal the decision.