Teacher brands schoolgirl 'despicable' after she refuses to accept classmate's claim that she 'identifies as a cat'

19 June 2023, 08:16 | Updated: 19 June 2023, 08:17

The incident took place at Rye College
The incident took place at Rye College. Picture: Getty/Google Maps

By Kit Heren

A teacher has called a teenage student "despicable" after she did not accept a classmate's claim to identify as a cat.

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The teacher, at Rye College in East Sussex, said she would report the girl, 13, to school leaders after a row sparked by the student's questioning of her fellow pupil's identity.

The argument took place on Friday afternoon in a class on 'life education', where students were told that "who you want to be and how you identify is up to you”.

One student asked a classmate: "How can you identify as a cat when you’re a girl?"

During the row, of which an audio recording was made, the teacher is heard to say: "How dare you – you’ve just really upset someone" by "questioning their identity".

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The pupil hits back: "If they want to identify as a cat or something then they are genuinely unwell – crazy."

The teacher then asks the girls: "Where did you get this idea from that there are only two genders", adding that this "is not an opinion."

According to the Telegraph, the teacher tells the class that "gender is not linked to the parts that you were born with, gender is about how you identify, which is what I said right from the very beginning of the lesson."

She adds that "there is actually three biological sexes because you can be born with male and female body parts or hormones" and "there are lots of genders – there is transgender, there is a gender who are people who don’t believe that they have a gender at all".

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The girls disagree, because, as they say, "if you have a vagina you’re a girl and if you have a penis you’re a boy – that’s it".

Getting heated, the teacher interrupts: "What do you mean you can’t have it? It’s not a law ... Cisgender is not necessarily the way to be – you are talking about the fact that cisgender is the norm, that you identify with the sexual organ you were born with, that’s basically what you’re saying, which is really despicable."

The teacher suggests that they are homophobic and don't understand what they're talking about. The girls say their mothers would agree with them, which the teacher labels "sad".

The teacher says that “if you don’t like it you need to go to a different school", telling them: “I’m reporting you to [senior staff], you need to have a proper educational conversation about equality, diversity and inclusion because I’m not having that expressed in my lesson."

Parents reacted angrily, with some criticising the teacher for appearing to shut down the classroom debate.

A spokesman for Rye College said: "We are committed to offering our pupils an inclusive education. Teachers endeavour to ensure that pupils’ views are listened to, and encourage them to ask questions and engage in discussion. Teachers also aim to answer questions sensitively and honestly.

"We strive to uphold the highest standards across the school. We will be reviewing our processes and working with the relevant individuals to ensure such events do not take place in the future.”