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Judge rules against Christian teacher sacked for saying ‘God loves you’ to lesbian pupil

Sat 10 Feb 2018
By Tola Mbakwe

An Employment Tribunal has dismissed the discrimination claim by a Christian teacher who was sacked for answering students’ questions about her beliefs.

Svetlana Powell was dismissed by the T2 Apprenticeship Academy, a government-funded pre-apprenticeship academy, in Bristol in July 2016 after being asked by students about her views on homosexuality.

According to Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Powell, 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 said: “God loves you”.

 Two days later she was told she was being 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.

Employment Judge Maxwell has ruled that the Academy did not discriminate against Mrs Powell because of her religious beliefs.

The Judge said Mrs Powell was dismissed “because she allowed herself to be drawn into a discussion where she expressed personal religious views… allowed it to escalate and get out of control. She was not dismissed, to any material extent, for her Christian religion or beliefs”.

Mrs Powell is considering appealing the ruling.

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