14 March 2023

Christian school worker appeals sacking over Facebook posts

14 March 2023

A school worker who lost an employment tribunal after claiming she was sacked because of her Christian beliefs is appealing against the ruling.

Kristie Higgs, 46, was dismissed for gross misconduct by Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire, in 2019 after sharing Facebook posts criticising plans to teach LGBT relationships in primary schools.

Mrs Higgs, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, took the school to an employment tribunal arguing she had been unlawfully discriminated against because of her Christian beliefs.

The school had denied dismissing Mrs Higgs because of her religious beliefs and said she was sacked because of the language used in the posts.

In its ruling in 2020, the tribunal concluded that her religion was a “protected characteristic” as defined by the Equality Act.

Employment judge Derek Reed said: “We concluded that not only the dismissal but the entire proceedings taken against Mrs Higgs were motivated by a concern on the part of the school that, by reason of her posts, she would be perceived as holding unacceptable views in relation to gay and trans people – views which in fact she vehemently denied that she did hold.”

Mrs Higgs’ appeal will be heard at the Employment Appeal Tribunal, London, for two days from March 16.

Ahead of the hearing, Mrs Higgs said: “I am relieved that the opportunity to appeal is here. Over four years on I am continuing to fight for justice.

“I shared these posts as a mother who was deeply concerned about the compulsory sex education being forced on my nine-year-old son at a Church of England primary school.

“I have to continue to fight for justice so that no one else has to go through what I have.

“I want parents to have the freedom to bring their children up in line with their Christian beliefs, I want young children to be protected from this harmful ideology.”

The mother-of-two, from Fairford, shared and commented on posts which raised concerns about relationship education at her son’s Church of England primary school.

Students were to learn about the No Outsiders In Our School programme, which is a series of books teaching the Equality Act in primary schools.

Mrs Higgs, who was posting on Facebook under her maiden name, shared two posts in October 2018 to around 100 friends.

One of the posts referred to “brainwashing our children” and added: “Children will be taught that all relationships are equally valid and ‘normal’, so that same sex marriage is exactly the same as traditional marriage, and gender is a matter of choice, not biology, so that it’s up to them what sex they are.

“We say again this is a vicious form of totalitarianism aimed at suppressing Christianity and removing it from the public arena.”

An anonymous complaint was made to the school and Mrs Higgs was suspended and later dismissed for gross misconduct following a disciplinary hearing.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Kristie was dismissed, not for the posts she made, but for a deliberately distorted and unkind interpretation of the content that she linked to.

“Even though her post was private to her family and friends, she is being held responsible for what others might do with it.

“It is clear no actual harm has come to the school’s reputation as a result of her posts, but that she has been sacked as if it had.

“The posts were not even in relation to the secondary school but about the books being read in her son’s primary school.

“We hope and pray for a fair hearing this week and for Kristie to finally receive justice.”

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