A Christian teacher in Oxford, England has been banned from the profession for “misgendering” a pupil. It is believed to be the first such case in the U.K..
A report by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) said while at a school in Oxford in 2017 Joshua Sutcliffe, 33 failed to use a pupil’s preferred pronoun in class and was thus ruled to have not treated a pupil with “dignity and respect”.
He was also considered by the TRA to have failed to protect the pupil’s wellbeing when he did not use the preferred pronouns of a girl who identified as a boy.
Sutcliffe, a former maths teacher at The Cherwell School, a state secondary in Oxford, stated he did indeed fail to use the pupil’s preferred pronouns during a maths lesson when he praised the class by saying “well done girls”.
The TRA concluded it to be “more probable than not” that he publicly referred to the transgender pupil using female pronouns on other occasions while working at the school between 2015 and 2018, an accusation that Sutcliffe denies.
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The former maths teacher was additionally found guilty of misconduct for expressing his views against gay marriage when questioned by a pupil and for failing to “consider the potential impact” on his pupils.
He also faced complaints for showing pupils at another school a video that highlighted the growing problem in today’s society that men are not masculine enough, which was also upheld.
Suspended after TV show appearance
Sutcliffe appeared on British television to talk about misgendering a transgender pupil in 2017 and was later suspended and then dismissed.
The TRA heard how the pupil subsequently feared being identified and felt suicidal. They judged Sutcliffe had not safeguarded the child’s wellbeing when he referred to the pupil using the female pronoun on the broadcast.
A government guidance for British schools on how to respond to transgender pupils is expected before the end of the school year.
It is broadly expected that the guidance that school leaders will be able to refuse to use different pronouns demanded by pupils.
Analysts have pointed out that were they to force schools to do so they could be setting a dangerous precedent whereby pupils could start to identify as anything or anyone, beyond gender the realm of gender. A case illustrated by some adults identifying as babies or animals.
Sutcliffe said this week that he was “devastated” to be banned from teaching. He is planning to appeal and is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
“I believe affirming children in gender confusion in the classroom is psychologically damaging for them. I refuse to go against my conscience and cause a child harm and refuse to apologise for that,” Sutcliffe said.