A teacher has been suspended and could face the sack after he ‘accidentally’ called a transgender pupil a ‘girl’ in class when the student identifies as a boy.
Joshua Sutcliffe, 27, who teaches maths at a state secondary school in Oxfordshire, said ‘Well done girls’ to the teenager and a friend when he spotted them working hard.
He apologised when corrected by the pupil, but six weeks later he was suspended from teaching after the pupil’s mother lodged a complaint.
Following an investigation, he has been summoned to a formal disciplinary hearing this week to face misconduct charges for ‘misgendering’.
According to documents seen by The Mail on Sunday, he also faces claims that he is breaching equality policies by referring to the pupil by name rather than as ‘he’ or ‘him’.
The £30,000-a-year teacher said he was ‘distraught’ and had been reduced to tears as teaching was his life, and he branded the actions of the school as ‘political correctness gone mad’.
Mr Sutcliffe, a maths graduate who gained his teaching qualifications at Exeter University, said he had no official instructions about how to address the student, but along with other staff decided to use the pupil’s chosen first name.
However, he has admitted that, as a Christian, he avoided using male pronouns such as ‘he’ and ‘him’.
He believed this was consistent with the school’s code of conduct and equality policies to show respect and tolerance, and he said he had encountered no problems with this.
He said he thought no more about the incident until the week before last when, after a parents’ evening, he was unexpectedly called to the head’s office to be told there had been a ‘transgender complaint’ against him and that he was suspended from teaching while it was investigated.
He was told to come to the school and sit in the staff room preparing work, but he was not allowed to discuss the situation with colleagues.
He later discovered that the pupil’s family had claimed he had not only ‘misgendered’ the pupil but had unfairly given the pupil a disproportionate number of detentions for poor behaviour, though this later claim was not upheld during the investigation.
It is understood that the family’s main concern was that Mr Sutcliffe was picking on their child and they would not have complained about misgendering on its own as they are supporters of free speech.
Mr Sutcliffe said: ‘I was absolutely shocked to be told by the head that I was under investigation. I didn’t know what was happening. It was surreal, Kafkaesque.
‘I said it was only one incident for which I had apologised, but he insisted the investigation would go ahead.
‘I had always tried to respect the pupil and keep a professional attitude as well as my integrity, but it seemed to me that the school was trying to force me to adhere to its liberal, Leftish agenda.’
Mr Sutcliffe assumed the investigation would be brief and he would soon be back in the classroom, but he was questioned for an hour on the day after the meeting with the head and again last Monday, and was then sent a letter telling him to attend a formal disciplinary hearing this Wednesday, attended by the head and three governors.
He said: ‘I have never been trained to deal with this sort of thing. I felt completely out of my depth and intimidated.’