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UK News

Christian parent governor wins in High Court after questioning school's gender teaching

by Premier Journalist

The High Court has ruled as unlawful the dismissal of a Christian parent governor, who questioned the sex education programme in her children’s primary school, which included the use of a so-called ‘Genderbread’ teaching diagram.

The decision means the Gateshead mum is reinstated to her position.

‘Susan’ (not her real name), has been granted anonymity by the Court in order to protect her children. Backed by the Christian Institute, she said she felt “wonderful to be back and helping the school get the best outcomes for all the children there".

“I was concerned at the devastation that might be done to children from teaching gender ideology. I’m absolutely delighted that I’ve been vindicated," she added.

Susan reached a legal settlement with the school after being kicked off its governing body for pointing out legal errors in its Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) policy.

School lesson plans challenged by Susan included use of the ‘Genderbread Person’ diagram, which teaches children that 'gender identity’ (whether someone identifies themselves as a man or a woman), ‘gender expression’ (based on behaviour or clothes for example) and biological sex (a person's genetic make-up and anatomy at birth) can all be different – and can exist anywhere on scale from 0-100.

Susan also objected to children being encouraged to question their own gender identity; the idea that any concerns pupils may have could be discussed with outside groups, without mentioning going to their parents; and the claim that 'being' a man or a woman is determined by personality, hobbies and clothes – not biology.

The governing body and Local Authority have both accepted that the decision to remove Susan was unlawful and acknowledged that at all times Susan had sought to act in line with the Governor's Code of Conduct, and in the best interests of the school and its pupils.

She first raised concerns with fellow governors in March 2021, pointing out that adopting the draft RSE policy could be unlawful.  She says her concerns were not addressed.

According to the Christian Institute, when Susan followed the headteacher’s advice and resorted to the school’s official complaints procedure, the governing body told her that “[your] continued dissatisfaction with the outcome of the complaints process is not consistent with supporting a collective decision made by the governing body”.

Before reaching a finding on her complaint, in June 2022, the board removed Susan as a parent governor, triggering a five-year ban on serving as a governor in any school in England.

The Christian Institute says her reinstatement will be reassuring to parents and school governors, who have a right to challenge teaching on gender and sexuality in schools.

The Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, wrote to all UK schools in March, reminding them of the need to share information about the RSE curriculum with parents:

"The Department is clear that parents should be able to view all curriculum materials...

In relation to the teaching of relationships, sex and health education (RSHE), there are specific requirements which mean that all schools must publish a relationships or a relationships and sex education policy, and consult parents on it. Further to this, the statutory guidance on RSHE is clear that when consulting parents, schools should provide examples of the resources that they plan to use, and ask to see the materials external providers will use in advance."  The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP Secretary of State for Education, 31st March 2023.

You can read Ms Keegan's letter to schools in full here.

Ciarán Kelly, Deputy Director of The Christian Institute, said: “Susan conducted herself in a way that all parents would hope any good school governor would.  It’s her job to robustly question and challenge the school, not simply rubber-stamp whatever documents are placed in front of her.”

The Christian Institute has been challenging inappropriate materials used in schools for well over a decade, but it says few parents realise schools have a legal duty to consult them before writing or revising their RSE policy.

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