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‘Christian’ Teacher Dismissed and Referred to Counter Terrorism Watchdog After Saying “God Loves You” To A Lesbian Student
An Employment Tribunal has dismissed the discrimination claim by a Christian teacher dismissed by a government-funded pre-apprenticeship academy for answering students’ questions about her beliefs.
Svetlana Powell, a teacher of some 17 years’ experience, was dismissed by the T2 Apprenticeship Academy in Bristol in July 2016 after being asked by students about her views on homosexuality. She was also reported as a “radicalisation threat” to the government’s anti-terrorist watchdog, Prevent.
In reply to a question by a 17-year-old student, Mrs Powell said that her personal belief was that homosexuality was against God’s will, but that He loved every person, regardless of what they did, or who they were.
When told that one of the students identified as a lesbian, Mrs Powell in conviction of God’s care and love for every person, turned to her and said: “God loves you”. Two days later, the Academy’s HR Officer, Stacy Preston, told Mrs Powell that she was fired for “gross misconduct” with immediate effect.
The Academy’s Chief Safeguarding Officer, Sian Prigg, told the Tribunal that after a group of students complained that they were “brainwashed and preached to”, she decided to contact the local coordinator for Prevent - the government’s ‘counter-terrorism’ strategy group – to report the incident. Mrs Powell said she did not know of being reported as a “radicalisation threat” until she brought a legal claim against the Academy and read Mrs Prigg’s witness statement for the Tribunal.
However, Employment Judge Maxwell has ruled that the Academy did not discriminate against Mrs. Powell because of her religious beliefs.
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