Sacked teacher accused of transphobic behaviour towards student

A teacher at a Swindon school has been sacked for how he treated a 17-year-old student. Picture: GETTY
A teacher at a Swindon school has been sacked for how he treated a 17-year-old student. Picture: GETTY

A TEACHER at a Swindon school has been sacked for not using a student's preferred name and pronouns.

Kevin Lister says he is taking legal action against his former employers, claiming unfair dismissal.

A disciplinary hearing held in August reportedly upheld three complaints of gross misconduct against him: that he subjected a gender-transitioning student to transphobic discrimination and harassment, and refused to use  the student's preferred name and he/him pronouns.

When the 17-year-old A Level maths student asked to be referred to by another name and different pronouns rather than the female ones used previously, the 59-year-old refused, then wanted to tell the student's parents about it, but was not allowed.

The school’s guide to supporting transitioning students is said to state that staff should "maintain confidentiality and only tell others about the person’s trans status with their permission".

This put Mr Lister in what he described as an impossible position. He told the Mail on Sunday: "‘I wanted at least to make sure that my student had parental support and was making an informed decision.

"As a parent myself, I would have been furious if my child had taken this step and I hadn’t been told anything.

"‘I ended up pointing to her as politely as I could to avoid either dead-naming her or supporting transition without parental consent."

He claims the student wanted to take part in a female maths Olympiad and he put the student's female name on the board instead of the preferred one.

Mr Lister added that some students made accusations of transphobia against him and he was suspended in February, pending an inquiry, then escorted off the school grounds.

A letter by the school’s vice-principal said he had degraded the student by pointing in class and writing the female name on the board was insensitive.

According to the tabloid, the letter announcing his dismissal added: "We acknowledge that you are entitled to your beliefs, however, it is my view that your treatment of [the student] violated his dignity."

Mr Lister insists he was trying to protect the student’s welfare.

One place of education in Swindon has been named on social media by people criticising the decision to fire him, and Mr Lister's name appears in a Google search result as a teacher at New College's A Level Further Mathematics page, but not on the webpage itself.

A spokesman for his former employer said: "We are unable to provide any comment on this."