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Sex education – Christian worker sacked because of her opinion

A Christian school assistant has been fired because of her views about sex education. She is taking her former employer to tribunal, seeking £56K in damages.

Kristie Higgs is claiming that she was dismissed because of her posts on Facebook where she objected to plans over the introduction of sex education into primary schools.

Ms Higgs was dismissed after the headteacher at Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire was sent a screenshot of a private Facebook post from Ms Higgs.

The legal team which Ms Higgs has engaged argues that her dismissal breached her freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

During 2018 there were two Facebook posts made by Ms Higgs where she expressed her beliefs about the way LGBT relationships and community should be taught.

Her first post urged her followers to sign a petition against governmental plans concerning the introduction of sex and relationship education in primary schools.

The second post included a link to an article written by an American Conservative Christian commentator. The commentator claimed that there had been an increase in ‘transgender ideology’ is the children’s books which are used in schools.

Both posts were made on Ms Higgs’ private Facebook account under her maiden name. Neither post mentioned the school she worked at.

An anonymous complaint was passed to the headteacher at Farmor’s School about the posts. The complaint described the posts as ‘homophobic and prejudiced against the LGBT community.’

Allegedly, the headteacher asked the complainant to ‘look for more offensive posts.’ She assured the complainant that she would take immediate action against Ms Higgs. Very soon after this confrontation, Ms Higgs was suspended.

Ms Higgs was questioned, after an investigation was launched, as to why she had made use of her school email account to receive emails about Bible quotations.

Ms Higgs was invited to attend a meeting at a hotel, where she was allegedly subjected to six hours of ‘intimidating questioning.’ Her two Facebook posts were likened to ‘pro-Nazi views.’

The advocacy group supporting Ms Higgs, namely The Christian Legal Centre, said that she was told to ‘keep your religion out of it’ after she attempted to explain the context of her posts. She also tried to point out her personal Christian beliefs.

Soon after the investigation Ms Higgs was dismissed for gross misconduct in relation to discrimination, online comments that could potentially bring the school into disrepute, and inappropriate use of social media. Ms Higgs’ appeal was rejected.

When asked to comment on her upcoming hearing Ms Higgs stated that nothing could have prepared her for what happened. She was informed that the reasons behind her actions were nothing to do with her personal beliefs, when in fact, they have everything to do with her Christian beliefs.

Ms Higgs says she has been punished for sharing her beliefs and concerns about sex education and relationships. Her number one concern has always been the effect of learning about sex and gender is school will have on children of such a young age. She felt that she had never discriminated against anyone.

“Through my case I want there to be renewed freedom for others, especially Christians, to express their beliefs and opinions without fear of losing their jobs.”

Chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Williams said that the case is all about being free to hold Christian views.

Many Christians faced pressure after sharing their views in the workplace, although in this case Ms Higgs had shared her views among friends on Facebook.

Because of this, Ms Higgs has lost her job, her entire career is now tarnished, and she may be regarded as a danger to vulnerable children.

Should she not win this case, which came about because of one complaint, Ms Higgs will never be permitted to work with children again.

Farmor’s School were not available for comment.

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