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A U.K. woman who was allegedly fired from a Church of England primary school for raising concerns about compulsory sex education had her appeal heard before an employment tribunal last week after two members were recused for perceived bias.
Kristie Higgs, a Christian mother of two, was fired from her position as a pastoral assistant at the unidentified church school in 2019 after raising concerns on her private Facebook page about the school’s compulsory sex education and lessons about transgenderism, according to the London-based Christian Legal Centre.
Higgs had shared a petition objecting to the Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum in primary schools and also shared an article critical of books being used to teach young children about transgender behavior and gender fluidity.
After an anonymous person reported her to the school’s head teacher, Higgs was warned that her posts could “[bring] the school into disrepute,” and she was subsequently dismissed, according to her lawyers. An employment tribunal ruled in October 2020 that she did not suffer discrimination or harassment, a decision she is appealing.
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Kristie Higgs, a Christian mother of two, was fired from her position as a pastoral assistant at the unidentified church school in 2019 after raising concerns on her private Facebook page about sex education for children. (Christian Concern)
In what the Christian Legal Centre described as “unusual” and perhaps “unprecedented,” Judge Jennifer Eady, who serves as president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, recused two lay members of the panel for perceived bias regarding the case.
Attorneys for Higgs petitioned the tribunal last Thursday to recuse Andrew Morris, who served as the assistant general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) from 2017 to 2020. They argued that during his tenure, the NEU “consistently took a strong position in favor of making Relationships and Sex Education mandatory in primary schools and encouraged teaching primary school children about same-sex relationships and transgenderism.”
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Kristie Higgs lost her job as a pastoral assistant at a Church of England primary school after an anonymous person complained about her Facebook post. (Christian Concern)
“A reasonable bystander might have a reasonable cause for concern that the lay member has been for some time living and working within an institution which has adopted very forcefully a particular set of ideas and has made those ideas very much the forefront of its work,” Higgs’ lawyer, Richard O’Dair, said in court.
“That is precisely the context in which unconscious bias takes root. If one lives and works and breathes a particular set of ideas in working life it is very difficult to step outside them, and that is the difficulty the lay member faces in this case,” he added.
Eady had previously recused Edward Lord, a high-profile LGBT activist, from the panel in July 2022, ruling that she was “satisfied that if the lay member were to sit on the Employment Appeal Tribunal panel on this appeal, the fair-minded and informed observer could not exclude the possibility of bias.”
A high court judge in the U.K. recused two lay members of the employment tribunal in Higgs’ case for perceived bias. (Craig Hastings via Getty Images)
Higgs’ hearing comes as the U.K. government has launched a review into sex education in the country’s schools. U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is reportedly alarmed regarding government guidance for schools from 2019 that was endorsed by the LGBT charity Stonewall.
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The Church of England has also faced calls to scrap “Valuing All God’s Children” (VAGC), its guidance for schools that critics maintain opens the door to affirming children as young as 5 years old in the opposite sex, though the church has denied such accusations.
Jon Brown is a writer for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected].