A Christian former school worker, sacked criticising a different school's teaching on sexuality on her private Facebook account, has won the right to take her case to the Court Appeal.
Five years ago, mum-of-two Kristie Higgs, was dismissed from Farmor's secondary school in Fairford, Gloucestershire for gross misconduct. In two private Facebook posts, she'd raised her concerns about the LGBT+ syllabus at her son's Church of England primary school, saying it amounted 'brainwashing'.
Posting under her maiden name, and without referencing her employer, Mrs Higgs said she was concerned about some of the books being introduced at the school, which were presenting transgender ideology and introducing child characters who were confused about their own gender identity. Titles included 'My princess boy' and 'No Outsiders'.
She also reposted a petition, against making sex education a compulsory part of UK primary school education, and encouraged people to sign it.
Screenshots of her Facebook posts were sent by an anonymous complainant to her employer, leading to Mrs Higgs being suspended and later dismissed. After a five-year legal battle with her former bosses, the former pastoral administrator has now been granted permission "on all grounds", for her case to be heard at the Court of Appeal.
Ruling in her favour, the Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing said:
“All the grounds of appeal are arguable with reasonable prospects of success. Even if they were not, this appeal raises at least three important questions about the dismissal of an employee for the expression of her beliefs.”
The important criteria to be considered includes: “the extent to which an employer may lawfully dismiss an employee for expressing views which are based on her religious beliefs, in a forum which is:
- not in the workplace
- not controlled by the employer
- has a limited number of members.
The hearing at the Court of Appeal is likely to take place this year.
The Christian Legal Centre, who are supporting Mrs Higgs, say its outcome will have significant ramifications for Christian freedom in the workplace and the freedom of any employee "to express opposition to LGBT+ ideology without the fear of losing their livelihoods".
An earlier employment tribunal found that Farmor's school had acted within the law, but also said Mrs Higgs' religion was a "protected" characteristic.
In the past year, Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has ordered an urgent review into the extreme and sexualised materials being used in Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).
Last month the government released new guidance for schools which says: “Other pupils, parents and teachers may hold protected religious or other beliefs that conflict with the decision that the school or college has made, these are legitimate views that must be respected.”
Schools and colleges now have specific legal duties that are framed by a child’s biological sex.
Responding to the news, Mrs Higgs said:
“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. What has happened since in schools with extreme RSE and transgender ideology shows that I was right to be concerned as a parent.
“I am very grateful to Justice Laing for allowing the case to proceed on all grounds; I now hope to receive full justice at the Court of Appeal.”
Premier News has contacted Farmor's school, for a response.