Christian Teacher to Challenge Teaching Ban Following New Government Transgender Guidance
A Christian teacher, Joshua Sutcliffe, is set to launch a legal challenge against a teaching ban he received for “misgendering” a female student who identified as a boy. Sutcliffe was banned by the Teaching Regulation Authority (TRA) in May last year after he failed to use the preferred pronouns of the student. The TRA also deemed his sharing of Christian beliefs in the classroom as “unprofessional.”
However, Sutcliffe believes he has been “vindicated” by the Government’s new guidelines on how schools should handle transgender pupils, which were published in December. The guidelines state that no teacher or pupil should be compelled to use preferred pronouns and that teachers can refer to children collectively as girls or boys, even in the presence of a child who has changed pronouns.
In light of this official advice, Sutcliffe’s lawyers have launched a High Court appeal against his teaching ban, arguing that the TRA’s ruling was “perverse” and lacked authority. The ban is based on events that occurred in 2017 when Sutcliffe praised a group of students during a maths lesson by saying “Well done, girls.” Although he admitted to unintentionally failing to use the preferred male pronouns of the trans pupil, he immediately apologized.
Sutcliffe expressed his hope that his ban will be overturned, stating that being barred from his beloved profession due to expressing his Christian beliefs would be another injustice he has faced. He also highlighted that in 2017, there was no guidance on these issues, with schools relying on guidance from organizations like Stonewall rather than the Government or experts.
Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Sutcliffe, emphasized the chilling impact of the ruling, as teachers are silenced for fear of losing their jobs if they express viewpoints that differ from the regulator’s.
The Department for Education (DfE) has not yet commented on the matter. Sutcliffe’s legal challenge raises important questions about the rights of teachers to express their beliefs while navigating the sensitive issue of gender identity in schools.