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Teacher suspended for Christian beliefs

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A Christian teacher has been suspended from a senior post for complaining that a staff training day was used to promote homosexual rights.

Kwabena Peat, 54, left a compulsory training session with several other Christian colleagues at the north London school after the speaker, Sue Sanders, invited by the School headteacher, openly questioned why people thought heterosexuality was natural.

Mr  Peat says that Ms Sanders, who openly describes herself as a lesbian, told him and his colleagues that those who did not accept that being homosexual was "normal" had "issues" they must deal with.

He said: “I expected the training session to help us by providing good information on how to handle bullying but she had another agenda.  She started promoting homosexual lifestyles and suggesting those who had objections should sort out their prejudices.  She clearly asked us ‘what makes you all think that to be heterosexual is natural?’”.

Mr Peat, who is a year-head on a £50,000 salary, and other staff were deeply upset that teaching staff, and others, who disagreed out of Christian conviction were given no opportunity to respond.  It would seem that at the school only one position was acceptable, namely the denial of free speech and of respect for staff’s human rights, in a training establishment that is designed to encourage students to think for themselves and claims to respect every individual’s moral convictions.

Following the training day Mr Peat wrote privately to three staff members involved in organising the session, including a deputy head, complaining about Ms Sanders' "aggressive" presentation.  Sue Sanders is the co-founder of the "Schools Out" organisation, which campaigns for homosexual equality in education and last month attended a Downing Street reception hosted by Gordon Brown to mark Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender History Month.  She was paid £850 for conducting training in the school.

The three staff complained to the school's principal, claiming, although they were senior to Mr Peat, they felt "harassed and intimidated" by the letter.  Following an investigation, Mr Peat was suspended and placed on paid leave pending outcome of disciplinary investigations hearings.  He is now being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, and has instructed the leading human rights barrister, Paul Diamond, to represent him.

Mr Peat, who has spent most of his teaching life working in inner city London Schools and is a father of three children said: “I’m not surprised by all this, but I am disappointed.  I’m the one being harassed and intimidated—for expressing my religious views.  As an experienced professional I am very supportive of "equality and diversity" programmes and have always got on well with colleagues who are well aware of my Christian beliefs.”

Mr Peat has been suspended since January after the training day and has not been allowed to return to work.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre said: “Mr Peat is being discriminated against for expressing his Christian faith.  A legitimate orthodox Christian view as expressed by Mr Peat, however disagreeable others may find it, should not be construed as harassment or discrimination.  If this suppression of orthodox, Christian beliefs is allowed to continue, it will amount to state censorship and will lead to the infringement of people’s rights to freedom of religion and of speech.’

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