Conspiracy theorist teacher fired for saying LGBT+ people have the ‘DNA of Satan’
An east London teacher has been fired after he said Jewish and Catholic people are “evil” and LGBT+ have the “DNA of Satan”.
Robert Headley, a design and technology teacher at the Rokeby School in Canning Town, used his personal YouTube account with hundreds of thousands of followers to air his stirring religious opinions.
An employment tribunal heard on 2 March that Headley was fired for gross misconduct after colleagues discovered a video titled “DNA of the Wicked”.
In comments described as “shocking” by LGBT+ campaigners, the educator spoke to pupils about flat Earth conspiracy theories and how the Moon landings were “faked”.
Meanwhile, he recorded videos for his 274,500 subscribers about how LGBT+ people were from “the seed line descended from the antichrist”, MyLondon reported.
“Jews, Scribes and Pharisees are of the devil,” he said in one video, according to a report by openly gay deputy head Jo Doyle. “What is found in the DNA of Satan, like your LGBT, like your antichrist.”
Headley claimed he was teaching his pupils some “perspective”. But a tribunal concluded that he had been expressing his orthodox Christian opinions in a “trenchant” manner.
After being fired he sought to sue the school, claiming administrators victimised him for complaining about the school’s marking policy and was discriminated against for his religious beliefs, but the tribunal agreed he had been dismissed fairly.
Teacher claimed LGBT+ people were from Satan on discriminatory YouTube channel
Headley started working at the all-boys secondary school in 2008 before being promoted to head of graphic products.
The school later worked with Britain’s biggest queer rights group Stonewall to combat anti-LGBT+ bullying and better promote compassion and inclusive teaching.
All the while, Headley recorded at least 816 hate-filled YouTube videos. Many of the earliest ones were filmed in his classroom with a whiteboard visible in the background with pictures of the school staff.
Another deputy headteacher, Emma Hobbs, discovered the trove of incendiary videos and demanded Headley stop filming on school grounds. He deleted all videos where the school logo was visible yet continued to film content.
Fellow co-deputy Doyle was then alerted to the channel and she launched an official investigation. She found the channel was promoting “discriminatory views” in her report against Headley.
“To see a member of staff saying derogatory, divisive and hateful things about LGBT and Christian community on a public platform distressed, upset and saddened me,” she said.
“I am comfortable with who I am but I am more concerned with the effect these views might have on younger members of staff, students and families.”
The tribunal hearing held in East London heard that during a 2019 field trip to Epping Forest in Essex, Headling discussed the debunked and discredited flat Earth theory with students. He asked students to keep the discussions “confidential”, the tribunal panel heard.
After headteacher Charlotte Robinson was informed of this and of his vides, Headley was sacked on 16 July 2019, wary of students stumbling onto his channel
Headley’s claims that he was discriminated against and was unlawfully fired were both chucked by the tribunal.
“We accept that it would be difficult if not impossible to promote values of plurality and openness to students when it was known that a senior teacher publicly denounced LGBT+ people, Jews and Catholics as being evil or the descendants or followers of Satan,” the tribunal’s report said.
“There was evidence, which we accepted, that there were a number of openly gay students at the school. We find that there were reasonable grounds for finding that students were aware of the channel.”
‘This is another reminder of why inclusive education is so important,’ say advocates
To LGBT+ activists, Headley’s case makes one thing all too clear: schools should be a safe space for queer youth to discover themselves and be shielded from barbed beliefs.
“Every school should be a place where young people who are LGBT+ or have LGBT+ families can feel safe, happy and welcome,” Dominic Arnall, the chief executive of an LGBT+ young people charity Just Like Us, told PinkNews.
“Young people need to know school is a safe place where they can be themselves, and that includes young people who are LGBT+ and/or belong to a faith community.
“This is clearly a shocking and unusual case, and we are glad to see the school is supporting all young people to be themselves.”
“All LGBTQ+ young people deserve to go to school without fear of abuse.
“This incident is yet another reminder of why inclusive education is so important in supporting people to grow up understanding that LGBTQ+ people are valid,” Mo Wiltshire, director of education and youth at Stonewall, said.
“When young people are taught about different families and relationships, we know that it helps prevents anti-LGBTQ+ bullying and ensures all students feel welcome and included.
“LGBTQ+ people and issues are an important part of society and should be included in an inclusive school curriculum.”