Kristie Higgs, a 44-year-old school assistant, didn’t realise that criticising the sex education curriculum at her son’s school on Facebook would get her fired. For one thing, her account was set to ‘private’, so only her family and friends could read it. For another, she was posting under her maiden name, so no one could connect her with her employer. Finally, the school that sacked her for expressing these views wasn’t actually her son’s, but another one altogether. This seems a pretty clear case of a person losing her livelihood for dissenting from progressive orthodoxy.
Kristie’s case is being heard at an employment tribunal in Bristol this week. The dispute relates to two Facebook posts from two years ago. In one, Kristie urged her family and friends to sign a petition objecting to mandatory new sex and relationship lessons in English primary schools. In the other, she shared an article by an American conservative Christian commentator criticising the promotion of ‘transgender ideology’ in children’s books. ‘This is happening in our primary schools now!’ Kristie said.
Someone circulated screenshots of these posts to Kristie’s colleagues at Farmor’s School in Gloucestershire, where she had worked for seven years, and predictable outrage followed. Senior members of staff compared her views to those of ‘Nazi right-wing extremists’, according to Kristie, and someone lodged a formal complaint with the head, claiming her posts were ‘homophobic and prejudiced to the LGBT community’. Kristie was summoned to a ‘disciplinary’ at a hotel just before Christmas, where she was cross-examined for six hours by three of the governors, supported by three members of staff. When Kristie tried to explain that her objection to her son being taught that a woman could have a penis was rooted in her Christian beliefs, she was told: ‘Keep your religion out of it.’