A Church of England school teacher at Rye College in East Sussex, England, reportedly criticised a 13-year-old student as ‘despicable’ for refusing to accept her classmate’s identification as a cat. The incident occurred during a Year 8 “life education” class that focused on personal identity. The teacher reprimanded the students, threatening to report them to senior staff and suggesting they were no longer welcome at the school if they continued to express the belief that only boys and girls exist.
A recording of the conversation reveals a heated exchange between the teacher and students, with the teacher emphasising that gender identity is not linked to biological sex. The students argued that gender is determined by physical characteristics, stating that if someone has female genitalia, they are a girl, and if they have male genitalia, they are a boy. The teacher accused the students of being despicable and implied that they were homophobic.
Parents and others expressed concern over the teacher’s approach, highlighting the importance of open debate and a respectful educational environment. The Aquinas Trust, which manages Rye College and other schools, had previously encouraged teachers to address “negative language” and stereotypes. The school stated that it is committed to providing an inclusive education and will review its processes to prevent similar incidents in the future.