A Christian maths teacher suspended by his Oxfordshire school for 'misgendering' a transgender pupil is suing the school on the grounds of religious discrimination.
Joshua Sutcliffe, 27, who teaches maths at an Oxfordshire secondary school, faced a disciplinary hearing and suspension after he called a transgender student who self-identified as male a 'girl'.
Sutcliffe, a committed Christian and pastor at an Oxford evangelical church, is now taking the school to an employment tribunal, according to the Mail on Sunday. He says he is being discriminated against for his religious beliefs.
Sutcliffe began teaching at the school in September 2015; the complaint was made against him Nov 2 this year, from which an investigation and suspension followed. Sutcliffe said he had not been given any instruction on how to refer to a transgender pupil who self-identfied as male. He said he was happy to use the student's desired name, but avoided using gender-specific pronouns like 'he' given his 'sincerely held Christian belief that biological sex is God-given and defined at birth' as the Christian legal group Christian Concern explained.
But he said 'Well done girls' to a group including the transgender pupil – sparking the controversy. He said he apologised for the 'misgendering'. The subsequent investigation concluded that 'avoidance of using gendered pronouns contravenes the school's code of conduct with regard to demonstrating an awareness of sexual and cultural diversity of students and use of insensitive comments towards young people'.
Sutcliffe said he was 'distraught' at the school's response, describing it as 'political correctness gone mad'.
He said: 'While the suggestion that gender is fluid conflicts sharply with my Christian beliefs, I recognise my responsibility as a teacher and Christian to treat each of my pupils with respect and dignity. I have never looked to impose my convictions on others, I just try to earnestly live out the gospel of peace.'
He previously told the Mail on Sunday that despite his efforts to remain respcetful, 'the school was trying to force me to adhere to its liberal, Leftish agenda'.
In November Christian Concern's chief executive Andrea Williams appeared with Sutcliffe in a controversial episode of ITV's This Morning, in which presenter Phillip Schofield branded Williams' views on sexuality and gender as 'utterly abhorrent'.
Williams previously described Sutcliffe's case as 'one of a flood of cases we are encountering where teachers are finding themselves silenced or punished if they refuse to fall in line with the current transgender fad.
'We all know how much we change during our teenage years. It is vital that during those years we help our children to live in the biological sex they were born rather than encouraging them to change 'gender'. If we encourage them to change gender it is not kind and compassionate; it is cruel.'
The school has declined to comment on confidential disciplinary matters. Sutcliffe is expected to face a formal disciplinary hearing this Wednesday.