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School sorry after gay marriage disciplinary row

APOLOGY: Christian teaching assistant Victoria Allen

A SCHOOL apologised to a Christian teaching assistant after they disciplined her for sharing her views on gay marriage to a pupil.

Brannel School in St Austell, Cornwall made an out of court settlement with teacher Victoria Allen, after she had threatened to take the school to a tribunal.

Ms Allen works with students with disabilities and in 2015, a pupil asked her three questions. One was about same-sex relationships, another was about the meaning of the rainbow and the third was if she believed what the Pope believed.

Ms Allen recalled:

“I answered all three questions based on my belief of the Bible.”

The following day, when Ms Allen was asked to go to the head teacher’s office, she was informed he had received a complaint and that while the school investigated, her duties would be suspended and that she could only talk to the children under supervision.

Following the investigation, Ms Allen received a disciplinary warning. She appealed against the decision, but it was upheld by the Board of Governors. As a result, she turned to the Christian Legal Centre for help. Following their representation, an out-of-court settlement was reached.

A joint statement, released by Ms Allen and the Board of Governors states that:

“Some people have deeply-held views about the nature of marriage, and that every individual has the freedom to express these in accordance with the law.”

Head teacher Andy Edmonds apologised for any upset that Ms Allen may have felt during the disciplinary process.

Ms Allen accepted that it was reasonable for the school to request “staff share balanced views with students which asked questions about their personal beliefs and opinion under the requirements of equalities legislation including the Equality Act 2010 and the Education Act 1996".

She said she had been made to “feel like a criminal" for sharing her beliefs.

Libby Powell, of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

“Vicky was asked a question about her personal opinion.

“We know that there are lots of people who disagree with the Biblical view of marriage and they are free to disagree."

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