A math teacher “failed to separate teacher from preacher” when he allegedly misgendered a transgender student repeatedly and inappropriately shared his religious beliefs in the classroom, a misconduct panel heard.
Joshua Sutcliffe, 32, has been accused by the Education Regulation Agency (TRA) of “conduct which adversely affected students” on several occasions during his time at schools in Oxford and London. He denies allegations of professional misconduct.
In 2017, Sutcliffe took legal action against the Cherwell school in Oxford after being disciplined and eventually fired for allegedly failing to use a student’s preferred pronoun on multiple occasions due to his religious conviction.
He gave an interview on television’s This Morning show about the matter, which “made it likely” that the student, referred to only as Student A, would be identified, Andrew Cullen told the TRA.
At a teacher misconduct hearing in Coventry on Monday, Cullen said Sutcliffe had “prioritized his own interests above those of Student A”.
Sutcliffe, who regularly preaches on the streets and says he has distributed more than 2,000 Bibles to the public, denies all allegations of professional misconduct and is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
Michael Phillips, representing Sutcliffe, said the professor had a right to free speech and not be forced to say something he didn’t agree with.
He added: “There is no evidence that it was in Student A’s interest to have preferred pronouns used. It was their wish, but there is no ethical justification for that.”
He added that there was no evidence that Sutcliffe denied student A education or harassed them, and that he disputed some of the allegations. Sutcliffe stated that he had mistaken the student’s gender in their presence on only one occasion and apologized.
The audience heard that Sutcliffe also shared his views that same-sex marriage was wrong during a math class, although he claimed it was during a Bible group he set up at school.
He also allegedly showed students a video about masculinity, which said, “Passive men don’t protect, defend, or provide.”
In November 2019, Sutcliffe was dismissed from another school, St Aloysius’ in North London, over a video uploaded to his YouTube channel in which he claimed that Muslims had a “false understanding of God” and that “the fruit of of Islam is not peace, it is division”.
The audience heard several Sutcliffe students following and interacting with the channel, and Sutcliffe told students to “look for the next video”.
Phillips said, “Students used to ask Sutcliffe questions (about his views) and perhaps even tease him.”
Maya Forstater, who last year won a lawsuit alleging she was unfairly discriminated against because of her gender-critical beliefs, presented evidence in support of Sutcliffe.
She argued that schools should avoid implementing trans-affirmation policies for students who identify as the opposite sex.
Testifying at the hearing, Forstater said: “If a child makes the social transition in school, if they are accepted and treated as truly the opposite sex, that creates demand for the child to receive medical treatment.
“Schools with the best intentions can trap children in a path that will lead them to do damage to their bodies that cannot be undone.”
She also argued that forcing students and teachers to use preferred pronouns for transgender students was asking them to “participate in a belief system” that they might not agree with.
The misconduct hearing continues.