A teacher in England could be banned from teaching based on accusations that he intentionally “misgendered” a transgender student on a single occasion and that he inappropriately shared his religious beliefs online.
Joshua Sutcliffe went through a hearing by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) last week as it decides whether he will be allowed to teach again. All of the accusations against Sutcliffe center around the supposed inappropriate sharing of his religious beliefs.
The first accusation against Sutcliffe involved his alleged “misgendering” of a transgender student. Sutcliffe praised a group of his students by saying, “Well done girls,” before realizing one of the students in the group was a female student who identifies as a male. Though Sutcliffe’s legal representation claims he immediately apologized to the transgender student, he was suspended.
The Cherwell School in Oxfordshire launched an investigation into allegations he intentionally discriminated against the student by misgendering her and then dismissed him from his teaching position.
Sutcliffe states that while he did avoid using gender-specific pronouns, he did use the transgender student’s preferred name. After his firing, Sutcliffe filed suit against the school and the case was settled out of court.
In 2019 he was forced to resign from another school after making comments about the Islamic prophet Muhammad on his personal YouTube page. Sutcliffe said that “Muhammad is a false prophet” and “the fruit of Islam is not peace but division.”
The TRA also brought further accusations against Sutcliffe. The TRA accuses him of sharing his views on same-sex marriage with students, though Sutcliffe says he shared his views during a Bible group meeting when he was asked by the students what his views were. The TRA also accused him of saying that children without a father are more depressed than their peers and at “far greater risk of incarceration, teen pregnancy and poverty.”
Other accusations include that he called the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, a false prophet in the same video in which he claimed Muhammad was a false prophet and that he said, “Passive men do not protect or provide.”
Giving expert evidence on the Christian faith at the hearing was theologian Dr. Martin Parsons, who said,
“The beliefs of Mr. Sutcliffe in relation to transgender and which were the subject of investigation, disciplinary procedures and dismissal by Cherwell School are based on his Evangelical Christian faith. They reflect Christian doctrine that God created man as distinctively male and female and that the body is a unity, which cannot be divided between genetic sex and gender. These are beliefs which are shared by a significant number of other Evangelical Christians as well as many Catholics.
Christians are required as a matter of biblical obedience to obey secular authorities. However, where the state demands obedience in matters which specifically conflicts with the teaching of the Bible, Evangelical Christians are likely to understand themselves as having a biblical duty ‘to obey God rather than man’ — even if this means suffering persecution. Prior to 1689 when the Toleration Act was passed, a significant number of Bible-believing Christians in Britain were prepared to face execution, with thousands more subject to imprisonment for their faith.
However, the understanding that there are legitimate separate spheres for church and state and the enshrining of these in aspects of constitutional law, led to the establishment of freedom of religion in Britain, which later spread to other countries of the world.”
The BBC reported another expert witness at the hearing, who is unnamed, said of the videos, “This is essentially a sermon, what you would find in many churches. Jesus says there is only one way to God, all other people who claim to come after me will be false prophets.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, who represents Sutcliffe, said in a statement:
“The TRA is targeting an exceptional teacher because his Christian beliefs do not fall in line with the prevailing secular orthodoxy which cannot tolerate any dissent. For loving Jesus, speaking truth in his personal time and responding to questions from students on the Christian faith, he is being hounded out of the teaching profession. With critical shortages of teachers in the profession, why are the TRA so determined to force a high-performing teacher out for their Christian beliefs?”
Our world is being dictated to by transgender children and activists. If a child believes they are the opposite sex, the entire populace is told they must warp their own sense of reality and violate their religious beliefs to accommodate them. If they don’t, the LGBT warriors will cry transphobia and claim that holding to such beliefs will cause children to kill themselves.
As with this case, if a teacher even accidentally refers to a transgender as an appropriate but unpreferred pronoun, he or she might lose their job. Now, however, coupled with the crime of holding and occasionally talking about his Christian beliefs on his own time, Sutcliffe may actually be banned from teaching.
In a free society, Sutcliffe is — or least should be — entitled to his personal religious beliefs. His YouTube videos should have no bearing on his ability to be a teacher unless the content is truly objectionable like engaging in pornography.
It seems Sutcliffe is being investigated not because he did anything inappropriate or said anything discriminatory, but for simply telling the truth. Yet because our world has made the right to never have to hear anything unpleasant the highest right, Sutcliffe has been silenced.
In Acts 7:51-53, Stephen gave a defense before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious leaders. After discussing God’s choosing of Israel and the nation’s disobedience, Stephen said,
“‘You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.’”
The Sanhedrin had just had Jesus crucified. The passage continues,
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him…”
The Sanhedrin didn’t want to hear the truth that their fathers had disobeyed God and killed the prophets He sent to warn them. They didn’t want to hear that they had just killed the promised Messiah. They covered their ears, screamed, and lashed out at Stephen, ultimately killing him.
People who know that their beliefs aren’t based in objective truth don’t want to hear anything that confronts those beliefs, so they cover their ears and punish those who make them feel guilty or wrong.
Shutting down and trying to ignore the truth doesn’t change it and firing a teacher and lying to children will never actually transition a child from one biological sex to another. It’s all an illusion and it cannot hold. The number of lies that must be told and the number of people that must be coerced into repeating those lies to keep the illusion going is unsustainable.
Christians should never participate in this type of lie. Like Stephen, they must proclaim biblical truth, knowing that the world does not want to hear it and knowing that it might cost them dearly, whether it’s getting fired from a job or spending time in prison or facing death.
Sutcliffe should be lauded for holding to his faith and telling the truth. The TRA should be ashamed for being drawn into this madness and they should uphold Sutcliffe’s right to actually have his own religious beliefs.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.