Christian teacher accused of misgendering pupil faces misconduct panel

A devout Christian teacher who faces claims he repeatedly misgendered a trans pupil was behaving like a “preacher” in the classroom, a misconduct panel has heard. Joshua Sutcliffe is accused of breaching professional standards with “conduct that negatively affected pupils” while working at schools in Oxford and London.

As well as misgendering a student, referred to as Pupil A, it is claimed he acted inappropriately while discussing the “wrongfulness of equal marriage and/or homosexuality” and encouraging pupils to watch “inappropriate” videos about masculinity.

The 32-year-old was suspended from the school in Oxford in 2017 after allegedly failing to use a pupil’s preferred pronouns due to his religious beliefs.

Mr Sutcliffe denies misconduct. He previously said that the disciplinary action against him started when he said “well done girls” to a group that included a pupil who identified as a boy.

He claims he apologised when corrected.

This incident was investigated and it was reportedly found that he had repeatedly referred to the pupil by name rather than “he” or “him”, and he says this never caused any upset.

The maths teacher resigned and took legal action against the school, claiming he was a victim of religious discrimination and constructive dismissal.

In 2019 he was dismissed from a school in London over YouTube videos in which he said Muslims have a “false understanding of God”, that Muhammad was a “false prophet”, and that “passive men don’t protect, defend or provide”.

The misconduct panel heard his channel was followed by some of the students and he would tell them to look out for the next video.

Mr Sutcliffe’s lawyer, Michael Phillips, said the YouTube videos were not shown to pupils in school and said his comments about Islam and other religions such as Mormonism were made in his own time.

Andrew Cullen, representing the TRA, said Mr Sutcliffe had “lost sight of his role” and added: “He prioritised his interests above that of Pupil A.

“If you find there was one incident for which he apologised there can be no finding of misconduct.

“The TRA’s case has never been that a teacher should be prosecuted for an accidental slip (regarding a pronoun).

“This, the TRA’s case, is not about speech censorship.

“The teacher failed to separate the preacher from the teacher in the way that he acted.”


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The hearing heard that Mr Sutcliffe also denied telling a maths class at Oxford that he thought same-sex marriage was wrong.

Instead, he claimed he stated this opinion during a Bible study group he had set up.

Metro reports that his lawyer likened his client’s plight to a George Orwell in which political dissidents are tortured to within inches of death.

Quoting the author, his lawyer said: “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four.”

He added: “At the heart of this case is his ability to speak truthfully about life, about who we are.

“The very marker of a democratic society, we would say, is the freedom to speak truthfully even when other people don’t want to hear what you have to say.”

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