Non-binary official removed from case on LGBT teaching in primary schools over fears of bias

Edward Lord was told their 'unconscious bias' may influence the appeal

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A non-binary official has been defeated in a High Court battle over whether they can preside over the employment tribunal of a primary school worker who was axed for criticising teaching children about LGBT+ relationships.

Edward Lord, who is a member of the City of London Corporation and prefers to be referred to as "Mx" and "they", was removed from the case involving Kristie Higgs because of fears they may be affected by "unconscious bias".

Kristie Higgs who was dismissed for gross misconduct by Farmors School in Gloucestershire last year.
Kristie Higgs who was dismissed for gross misconduct by Farmors School in Gloucestershire last year.

The ruling follows the successful case of Maya Forstater, a tax expert, who won her case against a US think tank. A tribunal ruled she was discriminated against for expressing her views that trans women could not change their biological sex.

Kristie Higgs shared Facebook posts that were deemed 'transphobic'
Kristie Higgs shared Facebook posts that were deemed 'transphobic'

Mx Lord was set to look over an appeal lodged by Ms Higgs, who unsuccessfully claimed she was incorrectly dismissed for criticising new plans to teach primary school children about same sex relationships.

45-year-old Ms Higgs condoned plans for compulsory lessons, in which pupils are taught that same sex marriage is "exactly the same as traditional marriage", and that gender is a "matter of choice, not biology," as "a vicious form of totalitarianism".

In her case, the mother of two emphasised she should not be sacked for sharing her views which stem from her "orthodox" Christian beliefs.

The primary school worker took the school to an employment tribunal, which ruled in 2020 that her religious views weren't protected by the Equality Act as her language could be seen as transphobic and offensive.

Derek Reed, the Employment Judge, stated that Ms Higgs's social media posts on gender fluidity "might" lead him to conclude she was "hostile towards the LBGT community, and trans people in particular".

Mx Lord, who is a member of the Church of England, pursued their campaign stating how they should be allowed to look over Ms Higgs' appeal hearing later this year, as they served as a justice of peace for 20 years.

Mrs Justice Jennifer Eady opposed the decision, in a ruling handed down at the High Court.

She stated how Mx Lord's public statements inclined towards the "real possibility of unconscious bias".

A member of Ms Higgs' legal team, Richard O'Dair, highlighted Mx Lord's connection to groups including the LGBT Foundation as an example of potential partiality.

Relating to the Justice's ruling, Mx Lord wrote to the judge last month stating: "My publicly expressed views - none of which relate to the current case - would have no impact in my approach to this or any other case."