Christian maths teacher sues school for religious discrimination

Mail on Sunday — Dec 10, 2017

A maths teacher suspended for calling a transgender pupil a girl rather than a boy is suing his school for religious discrimination.

The Mail on Sunday revealed last month that Joshua Sutcliffe, 27, was facing a disciplinary hearing for accidentally ‘misgendering’ the student during a lesson.

The plight of the 27-year-old – who is also a pastor of an evangelical church – provoked widespread outrage. 

He is now taking the school in Oxfordshire to an employment tribunal, claiming he has been victimised for his Christian beliefs – with his rights ‘systematically and maliciously’ breached.

The school head declined to comment, saying disciplinary matters were confidential.

According to documents seen by The Mail on Sunday, he also faces claims that he is breaching equality policies by referring to the pupil by name rather than as ‘he’ or ‘him’.

The teacher claimed he said to the teenager and a friend ‘well-done girls’ when he spotted them working hard and apologised when corrected by the pupil.

Mr Sutcliffe said he was ‘distraught’ and had been reduced to tears as teaching was his life, and he branded the actions of the school as ‘political correctness gone mad’.

The maths graduate, who gained his teaching qualifications at Exeter University, said he had no official instructions about how to address the student but along with other staff decided to use the pupil’s chosen first name.

However, he has admitted that, as a Christian, he avoided using male pronouns such as ‘he’ and ‘him’.

He believed this was consistent with the school’s code of conduct and equality policies to show respect and tolerance, and he said he had encountered no problems with this. 

He said he thought no more about the incident until the week before last when, after a parents’ evening, he was unexpectedly called to the head’s office to be told there had been a ‘transgender complaint’ against him and that he was suspended from teaching while it was investigated.

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