School chaplain who raged against gay sex and equal marriage loses unfair dismissal claim

An employment tribunal has rejected an unfair dismissal claim from a chaplain who criticised his school’s plan to promote LGBTQ-inclusivity.

Reverend Bernard Randall was made redundant at the end of 2021 from his role at Trent College, in Derbyshire.

It came after he delivered anti-LGBTQ+ sermons, including telling pupils they did not have to accept “LGBT stuff”, the tribunal’s reserved judgement, released on 27 February, states.

The tribunal heard about “a series of sermons delivered to pupils aged 11 to 18 years old” in the first term of the 2015/2016 school year.

His sermons included saying marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and that “family works best when a woman, with her tone of voice, looks after the children”.

Another looked at gay marriage, with the underlying message being “the majority of Christians believe that homosexuality is sinful unless homosexuals remain celibate”.

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The judgement notes complaints were made by staff, parents and pupils about both of these sermons.

In the 2017/2018 school year, Randall took issue with the schools using the Educate and Celebrate (E&C) programme, which aims to tackle homo, bi, and transphobic bullying and ingrained attitudes in schools.

The judgement states Bernard Randall felt the programme went beyond “a neutral stance of inclusivity into active promotion of ideas which he believed amounted to identity politics”.

He also felt “much of the programme appeared to be contrary to Christian teaching” and “contrary to the school’s ethos”.

In a 2019 sermon, given to a group of 11 to 13-year-olds, Randall said they did “not have to accept the ideas and ideologies of LGBT activists” and that saying gender identity was a protected characteristic was a lie.

Staff and pupils again complained.

There was eventually an investigation into Bernard Randall, which led to a disciplinary hearing in 2019, where he was dismissed – but later re-instated by October of that year after an appeal.

However, by March 2020, Randall was furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ultimately made redundant in November 2020 as part of cost-saving measures at the school.

Employment judge Victoria Butler, who presided over the September 2022 hearing, concluded that Randall’s “claims of direct discrimination… fail in their entirety”.

She said the tribunal was satisfied Randall’s dismissal was “genuine redundancy” and not victimisation related to his beliefs.

Butler found the school was “entirely consistent” with the position it found itself in as a consequence of COVID-19.

In response to his anti-LGBTQ+ sermons, the tribunal identified that during the hearings Bernard Randall “was dismissive of the evidence that LGBT+ pupils are at more risk of harm” despite it being well publicised.

“The sermons were entirely self-serving and not driven by the needs of the pupils who had not expressed issue with E&C.”

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