School apologizes to Christian worker for disciplinary action over LGBT stance

A school in St. Austell, Cornwall has apologized to a Christian teaching assistant after giving her a written warning for telling a student about her stance on same-sex relationships.

(Reuters/Max Rossi)A gay couple hold hands during their symbolic wedding ceremony in central Rome, May 21, 2005.

A 14-year-old Brannel School student had interrupted an English lesson to ask Victoria Allen about her opinion on gay marriage. The 51-year-old Christian teaching assistant then said she did not approve of same-sex relationships and expressed her disagreement over gay pride's use of the Biblical rainbow symbol, the Daily Mail details.

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When Allen suggested that the student felt uneasy about the incident, he denied feeling offended by her personal opinion on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issue. However, Brannel School sent her a written warning for not following Brannel School's rule on equal opportunities.

The student's mother had filed a complaint regarding what happened, prompting Brannel to implement disciplinary action in September. When Allen threatened to elevate the matter to tribunal, the school apologized to her and settled the dispute outside of court.

Brannel School head teacher Andy Edmonds released a statement recognizing Allen's "right to share her Christian beliefs with students." The statement also apologized for upsetting the Christian staffer over the disciplinary action.

Meanwhile, Brannel's apology to Allen has earned flak among several gay rights activists who think the school should not have done that. LGBT rights charity Stonewall issued a statement saying schools should make sure that students with LGBT backgrounds feel welcome, Metro reports.

Echoing Stonewall's statement, Devon-based LGBT social enterprise Proud2Be said Allen has the duty to support the school in its efforts to provide equal education to all students including those who belong to the LGBT community.

Allen, on the other hand, said she was made to "feel like a criminal" for voicing out her personal Biblical beliefs and said she felt entitled to give her opinion if a student asks about it. However, she acknowledged that school workers should share "balanced views."

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