A Christian teacher in the U.K. is suing a school after he was suspended for referring to a transgender pupil, who self-identifies as male, as a girl.
Joshua Sutcliffe, 27, a math teacher who is also a pastor at an evangelical church, is taking his Oxfordshire school to an employment tribunal, claiming he was discriminated against for his religious beliefs.
The math teacher faced a disciplinary hearing back in November after he praised the transgender pupil and a friend by saying "well done girls" when he spotted them working hard.
Sutcliffe said that he apologized after he was corrected by the pupil, but an official complaint was filed by the teenager's mother six weeks after the incident.
"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," the teacher told Daily Mail.
"I said it was only one incident for which I had apologised, but he insisted the investigation would go ahead," he added.
The teacher is also reportedly facing claims that he had breached equality policies by referring to the pupil by name, instead of using pronouns such as "he" or "him."
He noted that the school had not given any official instructions on how to refer to the pupil, but he, along with other staff, had decided to use the pupil's chosen first name.
Sutcliffe, who gained his teaching qualifications at Exeter University, had acknowledged that he had avoided using male pronouns because of his Christian beliefs.
He believed that he was being consistent with the school's code of conduct and equality policies to show respect and tolerance, and noted that he had not encountered any problems prior to the complaint against him.
The teacher said that he had been reduced to tears because of the suspension as teaching was his life, and he branded the school's actions as "political correctness gone mad."
The pupil's family has also reportedly accused Sutcliffe of unfairly giving the teenager a disproportionate number of detentions for poor behavior, although the claim was not upheld during the investigation.
The Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Sutcliffe in the case, said that schools had become a major battleground when it comes to gender ideology, and an increasing number of teachers in the U.K. are finding themselves punished or silenced due to the "current sexual and gender ideology being imposed on our children in schools."
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, noted that the organization is getting 250 inquiries about sexuality allegations each year from people in all walks of life.
"We all know how much we change during our teenage years. It is vital that during those years we help our children to live in the biological sex they were born rather than encouraging them to change 'gender'. If we encourage them to change gender it is not kind and compassionate; it is cruel," she argued.
"If we collude in the transgender delusion we do not serve our children well, we harm them," she said.