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School worker loses wrongful dismissal case over LGBT social media postings

November 2020

Kristie Higgs
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A Christian school worker who was sacked for criticising LGBT lessons on Facebook has lost her appeal.

Kristie Higgs, 44, was dismissed for gross misconduct by Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire, last year after sharing two Facebook posts.

At an employment tribunal in Bristol, she claims her sacking breached her freedom of speech and religion. Her case was backed by the Christian Legal Centre.

One of her Facebook posts referred to ‘brainwashing’ children and said they would ‘be taught that all relationships are equally valid and “normal”’.

An anonymous complaint was made to the school, and Higgs was suspended and later dismissed following a disciplinary hearing.

But the tribunal ruled she was not sacked for her beliefs, rather she was sacked because others may think her Facebook comments could be homophobic and transphobic.

Blogging about the ruling, pastor David Robertson says this sets a worrying precedent, where a person can be sacked – not for what has been said but for what others think you said.

He wrote, ‘This means that anyone who finds what someone says to be potentially upsetting or offensive, now has the ability to get them fired. Objective evidence is irrelevant.’

He added, ‘Except it does not mean that. It does not mean that anyone who finds something offensive can get someone else fired. It just means that only certain approved and protected groups have the ability to use the law to enforce their views.

‘I suspect that the school would not have fired a teacher who posted a message that I would find offensive about Christianity. If this judgement stands, we will have lost the principle of “all are equal before the law”.’