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Christian teacher suspended after transphobic conduct in the classroom

A Christian maths teacher has been suspended from a state school in Oxford after an investigation found that he had repeatedly contravened the school’s code of conduct by reportedly making insensitive comments towards a transgender student and proselytising during lessons. Humanists UK, which has expressed concern about the continued intolerance being shown to transgender people, argues that it is unacceptable for teachers to use their position to push a religious agenda at school. 

The parents of the transgender child lodged a complaint against Joshua Sutcliffe, who is also a pastor at the evangelical Christ Revelation Church in Oxford, after claiming that the teacher repeatedly called the boy a girl and had given him a disproportionate number of detentions for bad behaviour. The school also found that Sutcliffe’s ‘use of religious comments in maths lessons demonstrates a failure to comply with school policies.’

Sutcliffe admitted the behaviour complained about but defended his actions by stating that the notion that gender could be fluid was not compatible with his Christian beliefs. Sutcliffe is being defended by the Christian Legal Centre, a campaigning Christian group, whose Chief Executive stated that this was ‘one of a number of cases’ in ‘the current transgender fad’.

The incident follows the news in September that a Christian couple had removed their child from a Church of England school in Portsmouth due to the presence of another pupil who identified as transgender.

Humanist UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan commented, ‘Christian lobby groups have seized upon this case, selectively reported its facts in order to further the false narrative that Christians are the victims of widespread discrimination and persecution in this country. This is simply not the case.

‘When in a professional position of authority, it is not acceptable to belittle or attempt to punish those whose lives do not accord with one’s particular religious viewpoint. Sutcliffe’s actions are especially egregious as he was reportedly attempting to impose his views upon children, who are still developing their own sense of identity. Such behaviour trespasses over the line of freedom of conscience to become a serious interference with the rights of another and the law is right to protect the vulnerable in these matters.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at richy@humanism.org.uk.

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/

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