Christian maths teacher Joshua Sutcliffe has been undergoing a lengthy investigation after referring to a pupil as a ‘girl’, when she wants to become a boy.
Mr Sutcliffe, who began working at the school in September 2015 and currently teaches children aged 11-18, has achieved excellent results, with his Key Stage 3 students outperforming every parallel class.
However, he hit the headlines — and was slammed by popular TV pair Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby — when the girl complained her teacher had not called her a boy.
Mr Sutcliffe had not been given any formal instruction on how to refer to the pupil, but said he always uses people’s names rather than pronouns. During one lesson, however, he had said, ‘Well done, girls’, to the pupil in question and another student. When the transgender pupil complained, he apologised immediately.
The pupil’s parents did not accept his apology and complained. Following this, an investigation began at once, during which he was prevented from teaching and forced to spend all his time ‘in isolation’ in the staff room. He is now suspended, pending a further investigation.
He told the Christian Institute: ‘While the suggestion that gender is fluid conflicts sharply with my Christian beliefs, I recognise my responsibility as a teacher and Christian to treat each of my pupils with respect and dignity. I have never looked to impose my convictions on others, I just try to earnestly live out the gospel of peace’.
In a gracious, open letter to TV presenter Mr Schofield, pastor Matthew Hosier, leader of Gateway Church, wrote: ‘It would have been interesting to explore how the disciplinary process Sutcliffe is under is operating.
‘He claimed to have had “no professional dialogue” with other staff about how to treat the pupil; said that he always tried to avoid pronouns, using first names instead; and that he apologised when he “misgendered” the pupil.
‘We all know the pressures teachers are under and Joshua Sutcliffe is clearly a gifted teacher: he claimed that under his teaching the pupil concerned had gone from having the worst score in the class to the best. Exploring the additional pressures placed upon teachers by rapidly shifting social understandings of gender would have been interesting and helpful’.
The letter is available on the Think Theology blog. It is not known if Mr Schofield has received or read it. Such public ostracism as Mr Sutcliffe has faced and such a bizarre judgment as the school has handed down to him demonstrate sin’s rapid progress in our society.