A student in the United Kingdom who went viral after questioning his teacher over the number of genders there are will not be allowed to return to school, the U.K. Evening Standard reports.
The 17-year-old student — who was called “Murray” in the video — has been told not to return to the Mearns Academy in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The school isn’t spinning it as an expulsion, though the student is.
According to the Standard, an individual who is allegedly the student in question gave an interview to the YouTuber who brought his video to light. In the interview, he claimed the clash with his teacher began when they were signing up for a website for class. The teacher noted there were only two gender options.
“He basically started going off on a tangent about how bad that was and how old-fashioned it was and I said, ‘But sir, there’s only two genders,’” the student said.
“He instantly snapped back and said, ‘Are you really going to go there’ and I was like. yeah. there’s two genders, and he said, ‘Murray, if you want to have this discussion, we can have it outside.’”
The student went outside, where he said he was waiting for his teacher for 30 minutes, during which he described feeling “shocked and angry.” When the teacher came to confront him, he recorded the interaction on his phone to “capture his explanation.”
While the teacher says that the student is entitled to his opinion, he says that the opinion is “not acceptable” to the school. So, you can have an opinion, just not in the school. Got that?
Told that he was entitled to his opinion, the student responded, “If I am, then why did you kick me out of class? It’s not very inclusive.”
“Not very inclusive? No, I’m sorry, but what you were saying is not very inclusive,” the teacher said. “This is an inclusive school.”
“Could you please keep that opinion to your own house? Not in this school,” he later added.
“I think it’s silly to have anything other than two genders — anything else is a personal identification,” the student said in the video.
In the interview, the student said that he was originally suspended for a week, then longer, with restrictions placed on his phone. His mom had called him to say that the school had talked to her and “they were not happy.”
“We got called back in for another meeting, and they said after having lots of talks with people higher up they said it’s not OK for me to finish my education at that school effectively, and they told me there’s no chance I can return,” the student said in the interview.
The student says that the school “emphasized that I wasn’t getting into trouble for what I said but for recording a teacher, which is fair enough because it’s a known rule not to record your teacher.” Of course, then we wouldn’t have known what happened.
The school says the student wasn’t permanently excluded — as in, expelled — from the school system.
“The young man in question has not been permanently excluded from Mearns Academy, but rather at the age of 17, has reached the end of his time in compulsory education,” the academy said.
“Staff from the school are working hard to ensure that the young man has a positive future placement either in further education or in an area that he chooses.”
Compulsory education ends at the age of 16 in Scotland; the Evening Standard notes that “[s]tudents cannot be permanently excluded when no longer in compulsory education.” The way it progressed, however, tends to back up the student’s account.
The student also noted that any school or university that takes him at this point would be asking for a reference from Mearns Academy.
“This won’t just affect me in this school, this could affect me in getting into another school as well,” he said. “(I’m) in limbo, I’m either going to have to find a new school or go to college, but it’s definitely a big speed bump in my life at the moment.”
For what it’s worth, the YouTuber who first brought the video to the internet’s attention has set up a crowdfunding account “to help [the student] with whatever he needs, which may include finishing his diploma at a private institution, tuition for college, or even rent and other basic expenses.” It has currently taken in $2,000 of a $10,000 goal.
The important thing here is to remember the gist of what that teacher said: You’re entitled to your own opinion, just not here. The school is also feigning outrage that he got the teacher on video, as if we wouldn’t have known about it otherwise.
The idea that there are only really two genders isn’t passé, bigoted or non-inclusive. In fact, it’s scientific reality. We don’t know the totality of circumstances here. From what we do know, I would say the school has a bit more explaining to do than just saying the pupil in question has aged out of compulsory schooling, it’s it and that’s that. This is a chilling reminder that student speech — and the ability to expose the limits on that speech — are under attack.
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