Kristie Higgs is deemed to be a danger to children. So dangerous, in fact, that more than a year ago she was sacked for gross misconduct by the school where she had worked for seven exemplary years. The grossness of her misconduct was gross indeed: she shared privately on her Facebook page her concerns about the Relationship and Sex Education (RSE [formerly known as SRE]) materials being adopted by her son’s local primary school. That school is a Church of England primary: the RSE materials included books teaching about same-sex relations and transgenderism. You may think these books aren’t appropriate for children aged 3-11 (in a Church of England school), but if you work in a school you have to keep those thoughts to yourself. There is no discussion or debate to be had. If you try to have one – even privately among your friends on Facebook – you will be deemed to be a danger to children.
Kristie Higgs worked at Farmor’s School in Fairford, a secondary academy in Gloucestershire. The headteacher summoned her into his office one morning after one of her Facebook ‘friends’ had reported her to the school for being “homophobic and prejudiced to the LGBT community”. Her first post had encouraged friends and family to sign a petition challenging the Government’s plans to make RSE mandatory in primary schools. The second post was an an article on the rise of transgender ideology in children’s books in US schools, to which she added her own comment: “This is happening in our primary schools now.”
Despite the two posts not mentioning her employer, and having been published under her maiden name (so quite untraceable to her school), the Headteacher, Matthew Evans, instructed Kristie Higgs’ ‘friend’ to trawl through her Facebook account to find more ‘offensive’ material. It seems these two posts alone were insufficient evidence of her danger to children, so Kristie Higgs’ ‘friend’ (not) was appointed Chief Offence Archaeologist, and given a mission to discover potential offensive sentences and outrageous words she used a decade ago.
The SRE material in question is ‘No Outsiders’. This is the programme which cause such a kerfuffle at a Birmingham primary school last year. “We are not a bunch of homophobic mothers,” said parent Fatima Shah in that case. “We just feel that some of these lessons are inappropriate. Some of the themes being discussed are very adult and complex and the children are getting confused. They need to be allowed to be children rather than having to constantly think about equalities and rights.”
Unfortunately, “homophobic mothers” is precisely what Matthew Evans deems them to be. Kristie Higgs had to be deprived of contact with children, and so her reputation had to be destroyed; her views portrayed as being utterly abhorrent, if not Nazi-ish. She was summarily suspended and ordered to leave leave the premises immediately, pending and investigation for gross misconduct.
You can imagine the upset and trauma of that humiliating experience; the shock and distress; the tears and shaking, followed by weeks and months of self-doubt, depression and desperation.
When the day of inquisition arrived, Kristie Higgs was asked why there were Bible quotations in emails she had received on her school computer. Her Facebook posts (on a private page) were compared to “pro-Nazi” views, and she was accused of being intolerant, and so a danger to children.
She proffered an explanation for her actions which included a defence of her faith, but was tersely told: “Keep your religion out of it.” She was accused of “illegal discrimination”, “serious inappropriate use of social media”, and “online comments that could bring the school into disrepute and damage the reputation of the school” (despite the Facebook page being private, the school not being mentioned, and her posting under her maiden name).
She was lectured: “As an inclusive employer, Farmor’s school recognises and protects the statutory rights of its staff. Such rights however are not absolute and 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.”
When Kristie Higgs asked against whom she had discriminated, she was told: “You had not directly discriminated against one person, rather it was about the words you had used that could be perceived as discrimination.”
In January 2019 she was duly dismissed for gross misconduct, just as Matthew Evans had determined she would be from the outset. She was given no leave to appeal. She was such a danger to children that natural justice had to be set aside.
And now, after almost two years of hell and being unable to work with children again, her cause has come to an Employment Tribunal.
But what price a broken heart and reputation in tatters?
Her story has made that national news.
She has been supported by Christian Concern throughout.
She is also being supported by the Free Speech Union.
And yet, despite her son’s school being a CofE primary, the Church of England has not issued a statement in her defence; not a whisper of compassion; not a word about her rights of freedom of expression and freedom of religion; not a single utterance of reassurance that parents are free to voice their concerns about Relationships and Sex Education which incorporates the inculcation of 3-11-year-olds into the enlightened virtues of transgender ideology.
Does the Church of England believe that Kristie Higgs is a danger to children?