Anti-gay marriage social work student loses appeal against removal from course
Sheffield University stands by its decision to expel Felix Ngole from its social work masters course for anti-gay marriage Facebook post
by Luke Stevenson on April 8, 2016 in Fitness to practise, Students, Workforce
Felix Ngole, photo courtesy of Christian Concern
A social work student who posted anti-gay marriage views on Facebook has lost his appeal against being expelled from his course.
Felix Ngole, who was a second year social work masters student at Sheffield University, was excluded from the course in February after making a Facebook post in support of Kim Davis, a US county clerk who was jailed after refusing to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Ngole said his views were a part of his Christian faith. He had also published quotes from Leviticus on his private Facebook account, which described homosexuality as an “abomination”.
The appeals office at Sheffield University said his social media posts were “inappropriate” in light of the professional conduct set by the Health and Care Professions Councils (HCPC).
He had been told he did not offer insight or reflection into the potential impact of his postings, or how the profession might be perceived as a result of what he posted.
In response, Ngole said it should not be a university’s decision to “arbitrarily ‘vet’ who should enter a chosen career” and that it should be up to the professional body to decide.
However, the university said this was a fitness-to-practice issue judged using the guidance all social workers are held to, and that he had not been excluded from studying at Sheffield, only from studying social work.
Ngole said: “I did not say that everyone has to agree with me. However, I was reported to the university for these views and they unilaterally decided to end my course. In so doing, they ended my training for my chosen vocation.
“All students would expect every professional body to have their own set of codes and practises when the time comes, and each student would decide whether they felt comfortable in applying to that profession, given those codes.”
He said he will take further action over the “legal questions” his case has raised, such as whether Christians with “traditional biblical and moral beliefs” can still enter professions like social work.
A spokesperson for Sheffield University said: “The committee came to its conclusions based on the professional standards of conduct, performance and ethics and guidance on conduct and ethics for students set out by the [HCPC].
“He now has the option to register on an alternative course of study at the University of Sheffield.”
The story split opinion among Community Care readers. Some argued his views were “not compatible with the job”, while others said his ability to be a social worker should have been tested on his behaviour in the profession rather than his thoughts.
Andrea Williams, barrister and founder of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Ngole, said this is the first case of a Christian student being stopped from entering a vocation.
She added there was “no evidence” his biblical views would have negatively impacted his work.
“Mr Ngole has worked with those who identify as homosexual in the past and has always treated them with respect, never discriminating against them,” Williams said.