UK Teacher Sacked Over Pupil's Preferred Pronouns Row

UK Teacher Sacked Over Pupil's Preferred Pronouns Row
Students play on a playground at a school in the UK in a file photo. (Danny Lawson/PA)
Owen Evans

A British maths teacher claims he was sacked after refusing to affirm a teenage pupil’s gender identity because he wanted to first obtain permission from the student’s parents.

Maths teacher Kevin Lister is taking legal action against his former employers, claiming unfair dismissal.

Lister said he was dismissed by his college in England on Sept. 9 after a series of events arising from when he would not refer to the biologically female student, 17, with male pronouns without parental permission.

The Epoch Times has chosen to not identify the college and has contacted it for a response.

'Bizarre and Crazy Situation'

"It's a bizarre and crazy situation," Lister told The Epoch Times.

"Basically I can have a student who is working perfectly well, get out of bed and say 'from now on I am going to be a male,' and come into school and demand that of me and all her friends, peers, and the entire college environment. And we are not allowed to question this at all," he said.

When the student asked him to use different pronouns, Lister approached the college's safeguarding officers and alleges he was told the parents would not be informed about the student’s wish to identify as male in the classroom.

He added that the college's transgender policy leaves no option for staff to question it and that it's "reasonably clear that staff must go with the student's compelled speech."

"I did not refuse to use her pronouns, what I said was that I wanted parental consent before I do so, and without that, I did not feel that as a teacher that it was appropriate for me to move forward," said Lister. He added that he was concerned that the student would also be at risk of going down the "route of cross-sex hormone treatments via online self-medication."

A few weeks after the pronoun row, the student wanted to enter a female maths Olympiad, and Lister put her real birth name up on the blackboard. The college used the term "deadname," a word for referring to a transgender or non-binary person by a name they used prior to "transitioning."

Students made transphobia claims against him and he was suspended in February pending an inquiry, and escorted off the school grounds. A disciplinary hearing at the college upheld three complaints around using the preferred names and he/him pronouns and upheld that he subjected the student to "transphobic discrimination."

In the dismissal letter seen by The Epoch Times, the college vice principal added that they were "not reassured by your responses that going forward you will respect the dignity of other trans students by referring to them by their chosen name and pronouns."

"Every accusation of me was always full of falsehoods, lies, and distortions of the truth," said Lister.

Compelled Speech

He said his other major concern is that this drives "a coach and horses" through the concept of free speech.

The teacher, a father of two, added that he believes that transgender ideology is "dangerous" because the message to kids is "if I don't get to do what I want, I will commit suicide."

"What kind of ethos is that to instill in young people?" he added.

"If you can turn around every morning and compel everyone to say something as absurd as this. A boy is a girl and a girl is a boy, what comes next? Are we going to have to comply with religious extremists or racists or whatever else? It is a step forward into a dystopian hell," he said.

Former Attorney General Suella Braverman, now home secretary, said in May that schools do not have to accommodate students who want to change their gender identification, and are under no legal obligation to use certain pronouns or allow children to wear the uniforms of another sex.
Simon Veazey contributed to this report.