A Christian secondary school assistant has been dismissed after she posted an online petition against LGBT issues being taught at her son’s primary school.
Kristie Higgs, 43, was removed from her post as a pastoral assistant at a Gloucestershire academy after a disciplinary panel found she had discriminated against its gay, lesbian and transgender pupils.
Higgs, who had worked at Farmor’s School, in Fairford, Gloucestershire, for six years, posted objections to the use of two children’s books at her son’s Church of England primary school on her Facebook page.
She invited her Facebook followers to sign a petition against compulsory sex education in primary schools, including teaching on LGBT relationships, due to be introduced next year.
It comes as some teachers call for lessons on age-appropriate LGBT relationships to be made compulsory in primary schools in England, amid continuing opposition from some parents at schools in Birmingham and Manchester.
Under new guidance on relationships and sex education (RSE), the government has said pupils should be taught about LGBT relationships in secondary schools, but has left it up to primaries to decide on the issue.
On Tuesday, however, members of the National Education Union, holding their annual conference in Liverpool, voted in favour of a motion to lobby government to strengthen RSE guidance and make teaching about LGBT relationships compulsory at all stages of the curriculum.
A disciplinary procedure against Higgs was initiated after an anonymous complaint was made against her. In the email, sent to Farmor’s School, the complainant accused her of “posting homophobic and prejudiced views”.
Two months after the complaint was made, a disciplinary panel found Higgs guilty of gross misconduct, citing the potential for the school’s reputation to be harmed, though the panel admitted “there was no actual evidence” that had happened.
Higgs wrote the social media posts after her son’s primary school announced it would be introducing the No Outsiders programme to its curriculum. It has attracted controversy in Birmingham after Muslim parents objected, and has been suspended in six schools in the area until a consultation takes place between schools and parents.
Higgs, who has now removed her son from the No Outsiders lessons at his primary school, said her Christian views on sex education were “shared by hundreds of thousands” of parents.
She said: “My number one concern has always been the effect that learning about sex and gender in school will have on children at such a young age.
“I am determined to fight this case and to stand for Christians and all parents across the country who are being silenced for sharing and holding these views.”
Higgs is taking legal action against the academy for unfair dismissal and discrimination, and is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
With reference to her child’s primary school, Higgs, using her personal Facebook account under her maiden name, shared two posts.
The first began with her writing in capital letters: “Please sign this petition, they have already started to brainwash our innocent wonderfully created children and it’s happening in our local primary school now.”
In the second post, 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.”
In a letter to Higgs, the academy stated: “We are concerned that you did not demonstrate an appropriate understanding of the school’s requirement to respect and tolerate the views of others and to role model such behaviour.”
Andrea Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Kristie has not only lost her job, but her whole career is now tarnished with the accusation that for holding these views she is now a danger to vulnerable children. This is despite an exemplary record at the school and in her work with youth in the wider community. If Kristie does not win this case, due to one complaint, she will never be able to work with children again.”
More than 115,000 people have now signed a parliamentary petition opposing the new RSE syllabus, which is due to be introduced in schools next year.
Last week, the education secretary, Damian Hinds, said it was right that parents were consulted and involved in developing how schools deliver relationships education, but insisted they should not be given a veto, adding “what is taught, and how, is ultimately a decision for the school”.
Farmor’s School has been contacted for a comment.