A Christian teaching assistant who was sacked after sharing Facebook posts criticising plans to teach LGBTQ+ sex and relationships education in primary schools has won an appeal overturning a previous ruling that upheld her dismissal.
Kristie Higgs was sacked for sharing two Facebook posts that raised concerns about how transgenderism and compulsory sex education was to be taught at her son’s Church of England (CofE) primary school – Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire.
Her case will now be reheard by an employment tribunal.
Handing down judgment, the President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, Dame Jennifer Eady, allowed Mrs Higgs’s appeal against the decision of Bristol Employment Tribunal, and held: “The freedom to manifest belief (religious or otherwise) and to express views relating to that belief are essential rights in any democracy, whether or not the belief in question is popular or mainstream and even if its expression may offend.”
Mrs Justice Eady criticised the judges in Bristol for failing to assess whether the investigation and dismissal of Mrs Higgs “were prescribed by law and were necessary for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, recognising the essential nature of [Mrs Higgs’s] rights to freedom of belief and freedom of expression.”
In 2019, Mrs Higgs was told by her bosses at Fairford school that her Christian beliefs were akin to that of a “pro-Nazi right-wing extremist.”
She was subsequently sacked for gross misconduct, which included allegations of “illegal discrimination,” “serious inappropriate use of social media,” and “online comments that could bring the school into disrepute and damage the reputation of the school.”
She had made the posts after discovering that the CofE school attended by her child planned to introduce No Outsiders books on gender identity. The books included My princess boy and Red: A crayon’s story.
The first post encouraged friends and family to sign a petition challenging the government’s plans to introduce Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) to children in primary schools.
In the second post, Mrs Higgs shared an article from Judybeth.com on the rise of transgender ideology in children’s books in American schools and added her own comment: “This is happening in our primary schools now.”
The article critiqued the same LGBT ‘No Outsiders’ books promoting transgenderism to children in her son’s school.
Mrs Higgs has said that her aim had been to raise awareness among parents of the Government’s education plans and the transgender books being taught in primary schools.
Responding to the ruling, Kristie Higgs said: “I am pleased that the courts have overturned the previous judgment, but I am frustrated by the further delays to receiving justice.
“From the beginning, despite the many attempts by the school to suggest otherwise, this has always been about my Christian beliefs and me being discriminated against for expressing them in my own time.
“I was, and still am, appalled by the sexual ideology that was being introduced to my son’s Church of England primary school.
“I will never forget the moment, shaking and tearful, that I was ordered to leave the school premises after my Christian beliefs were aligned with Nazism.
“Since I lost the job I loved, there has been so many disturbing revelations about transgender ideology in schools and children being taught inappropriate sex education. I feel so justified and vindicated for sharing and expressing the concerns that I did.
“Christian parents must have the freedom to bring their children up in line with their Christian beliefs. I want young children to be protected from transgender ideology and Christians must also to be able to share their opinions and beliefs without fear of losing their jobs.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, added: “Kristie was punished in 2019 as a result of the climate of fear and intolerance created in our education system by Stonewall and other LGBT activist groups, and appropriated. Only now is the government beginning to wake up and be ‘alarmed’ by the extreme teaching young children have been exposed to on their watch.
“Kristie Higgs was alarmed by the teaching content she found in her son’s Church of England primary school in 2019 and that Church of England schools generally were promoting LGBT ideologies. She was deeply concerned that confusing and harmful LGBT teaching and books were being introduced without parents being properly informed and consulted.
“The previous judgment that upheld her sacking could not stand. In what should have been a cut and dry case of discrimination, however, it has been unnerving to encounter the series of obstacles blocking Kristie securing justice.
“The double recusals in this case are no coincidence and reveal the shadowy forces at play that are determined to prevent a good and sincere Christian mother from receiving justice.
“No Outsiders books that promote extreme gender identity ideology, harm and confusion have no place in a Church of England or indeed any school in the UK.”