Kristie Higgs, a school worker in the UK, is fighting her dismissal over a Facebook post objecting to Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) lessons in a grade school.
Higgs, a mother of two worked as a pastoral assistant in a popular local secondary school, and about two years ago she posted a message on her Facebook page objecting to the use of two books about RSE issues in her son’s primary school. An unknown individual had reported the private post to the headteacher of the school where she worked, and it was termed that her action could bring “the school into disrepute”, hence she was dismissed from her position.
Christian Concern, having been active on the case, confirmed that Higgs’s fears have become real as RSE are now being used in schools across England. In a comment made by Kristie, she said: “I have been punished for sharing concerns about Relationships and Sex Education. I hold these views because of my Christian beliefs, beliefs and views which are shared by hundreds of thousands of parents across the UK. My number one concern has always been the effect that learning about sex and gender in school will have on children at such a young age. I am determined to fight this case and to stand for Christians and all parents across the country who are being silenced for sharing and holding these views.”
In the post, which was visible to her Facebook friends, Higgs expressed concern about the “deliberate confusion” being promoted in children through Relationship and Sex Education Lessons. She argued that the lessons were not appropriate for young children and that they were “promoting a transgender agenda”. Following the post, Higgs was suspended by the school and later dismissed. Higgs, however, argued that she was simply expressing her opinion on a matter of public interest.
The case went to an employment tribunal, where Higgs claimed that she had been unfairly dismissed because of her Christian beliefs. The tribunal heard that Higgs had also posted messages expressing her opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
In a ruling delivered in January 2020, the tribunal found that Higgs had not been unfairly dismissed on the grounds of her religious beliefs. The tribunal noted that while Higgs was entitled to her beliefs, she had expressed them in a way that was likely to cause offense and upset to others.
Higgs, however, refused to accept the ruling and vowed to fight on. In March 2021, the Court of Appeal granted her permission to appeal the decision, saying that the case raised “important questions about the freedom of expression of people who hold opinions that may be seen as unpopular or unfashionable”.
The case has attracted attention from campaigners on both sides of the debate over transgender rights and freedom of speech. Some have argued that Higgs was unfairly punished for expressing her beliefs, while others have said that her post was offensive and harmful to transgender people.