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Teacher bullied transgender pupil, tribunal told

A teacher's refusal to use a student's preferred pronouns "amounted to harassment and bullying", a tribunal has been told.

Kevin Lister, 60, from Wiltshire, was dismissed in September 2022 for gross misconduct by New College Swindon following complaints by two students.

He has denied violating the students dignity and has taken the college to tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.

The college's student experience manager, Charlotte Best, told the hearing Mr Lister "created humiliation in the classroom".

The hearing in Bristol was told the 17-year-old - known only as Student A - informed the college they wished to be addressed by a boy's name and with the male pronouns in September 2021.

Mr Lister refused to do this and later in the academic year, a friend of the teenager, referred to as Student B, made a formal complaint about Mr Lister's conduct.

That included an occasion when Mr Lister wrote Student A's birth name - known as a dead name - on a classroom whiteboard during a discussion on whether Student A would be entering a nationwide girls' maths competition.

He would also "point" at Student A rather than address them by their preferred name or pronouns, although he said he "gestured".

The complaint was investigated by Mrs Best, who produced a report for the HR department.

Giving evidence to the tribunal, she was questioned by Mr Lister and said: "Your behaviour was unwarranted and repeated and amounted to harassment and bullying."

Referring to the incident with the whiteboard, she said: "It created humiliation in the classroom.

"Victimisation - creating negative attitudes and feelings within the classroom."

She explained she stood by her comments and that she believed Student A was "underperforming and not attending classes" because of Mr Lister's conduct.

Mr Lister has previously said the decision of Student A to use male pronouns had the effect of "compelled speech" - meaning he and fellow students had to follow their wish, irrespective of their own beliefs.

However, Mrs Best said: "The student was not questioning your beliefs, they are asking you to respect them, and you could have used gender neutral terminology."

Mr Lister denied violating Student A's dignity in a public way and causing them distress in the way he interacted with them in lessons.

"She may have felt that but there is no evidence of that," he said.

"I believe the student was immersed in a cult. I believe transgender ideology is a cult and should not be encouraged and supported in schools."

Mr Lister denied he held "extreme" views after agreeing he believed that if a parent supported their child's wish to transition, they should be "investigated for Munchausen's by proxy".

He is claiming unfair dismissal, discrimination or victimisation on grounds of religion or belief and that he suffered a detriment and/or dismissal due to exercising rights under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.

The hearing continues at Bristol Civil Justice Centre.

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