A primary school teacher sacked after refusing to use an eight-year-old child’s trans pronouns has said her only intention was to safeguard the pupil.
The teacher from England, who can’t be named to protect the child’s identity, told The Epoch Times she had raised concerns about the potential damage social transition could have on the young pupil.
The woman—who is now taking legal action against Nottinghamshire County Council over her dismissal—claimed she was stonewalled by school chiefs after raising concerns over the welfare of the eight-year-old.
She was dismissed last year after raising a number of concerns regarding the facilitation of a new school pupil into her class who wanted to be treated as a boy.
The child—with the support of both parents—requested to be called a different name and required that staff use pronouns aligned to the child’s new gender identity.
School employees, including the pupil’s new teacher, were instructed to follow the family’s wishes, which included allowing the child to use of the boys’ toilets and dressing rooms.
After raising issues with the principal—which the teacher felt went against her Christian beliefs—the child was removed from her class.
However, discussions continued with school bosses on how she would address the child if they came into contact within the school setting.
The teacher suggested using a “gender neutral type of nickname,” but was told that she could only use the name and pronouns requested by the child.
After refusing, she was suspended for failing to comply with what she was told was a “reasonable management request.”
She said: “At that point, I did get in touch with the legal people and started asking, what’s the law say about this?”
“Because from my point of view, I felt that they are forcing me to live contrary to my conscience, and they’re forcing me to go along with something that I think is actually harmful.
“And so the legal people did argue the point that basically what was being required of me was compelled speech, and they were compelling me to live against both my Christian beliefs and, I suppose you could say philosophical beliefs, that are formed by actually what evidence I had seen.”
The teacher was allowed to return to work with an agreement that she would refer to the child in “gender neutral” terms.
However, the atmosphere within the school had changed, she claimed.
“I felt as though I was being very much silenced,” she told The Epoch Times.
“For example, they were requiring me to write a paragraph to the head teacher explaining what I would say to staff should they ask me questions about why I had been away from school for so long.
“She didn’t want me to tell them that I had been suspended.”
The woman also claims she was told not to share any of her personal opinions, including her beliefs, with any other members of staff.
“It’s like censorship,” she said. “So I thought, well, how on earth do we protect these children?
“I’d already started that safeguarding process in terms of raising it with the head teacher.
“I gave them quite detailed explanations as to why I thought it was harmful, I just thought, well, I’m going to continue then and I started to raise it formally.”
The teacher raised her concerns about the child’s transitioning with the primary school’s board of governors.
“I actually presented them a 100-page, expert report from a psychotherapist, a psychologist, and endocrinologist who were experts in the field who had worked with these kids, and who are all saying don’t affirm them in these beliefs.
“It’s it’s going to do more harm than good.”
The teacher also raised her concerns with the local authority but was told that the school and council had gone through the correct procedures.
She was then told that there would be no further correspondence with her on the issue.
After seeking further legal advice, she disclosed information on the child to her lawyer in preparation for a judicial review into the case.
“I went into school one morning about to set up the classroom and was met by the head teacher and deputy,” she explained.
“They asked me had I disclosed information on the child to my lawyer? They didn’t even give me a chance to explain that it was done privately and with confidentiality.
“They said I would have to be suspended and escorted me out of the school.”
The teacher was formally dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct a short time later.
She now faces never being able to teach again after the school reported her to the Teacher Regulation Agency for an alleged confidentiality breach.
She has brought an employment tribunal claim against the local authority that runs the school, claiming unfair dismissal and religious discrimination.
The woman is currently working in a sandwich shop ahead of the hearing, expected to take place in August.
She said: “I would hope this at least gets people talking and thinking are we doing harm?” she said. “It’s like we’ve lost sight of what’s really important in that debate. It’s about: is this actually harmful?”
A Year 1 pupil colours a dolphin poetry worksheet while respecting social distancing rules in a classroom during a lesson at the College Francais Bilingue De Londres French-English bilingual school in north London on June 2, 2020 (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images)
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, is backing the teacher’s case.
She told The Epoch Times that the centre has been inundated with concerns from teachers and other school staff.
“People are calling us every single day because of the situation in schools, parents, even students sometimes, and teachers who are who are very concerned about pupils or perhaps materials that they are being told that they have to teach,” she said.
“This teacher was being asked to essentially affirm an eight year old in the gender that they said they were and she felt very concerned because of the surrounding circumstances of this child.
“The child was displaying concerning behaviour and it was really as a result of that that the teacher felt that it was really important that safeguarding issues were raised around this particular child because the child’s wellbeing was at stake.”
For raising her concerns, Williams said the woman is now facing her very ability to teach being completely removed.
She “wants to see this whole situation around children change, and different policies put into place.”
The local authority has been contacted for comment.