A Welsh employment tribunal has determined that a school principal was discriminated against after being fired from his post for having sex with two 17-year-old boys. Matthew Aplin, 42, who was the principal at Tywyn Primary School, met the boys, who were not students of his, on a gay dating app, according to the Telegraph.
After Tywyn officials raised legitimate concerns about his sexual involvement with school-aged boys, Aplin claimed to be a victim of anti-gay discrimination. Rather than taking these professional and moral concerns seriously, the educator made the issue about his otherwise irrelevant identity as a gay man.
By altering the narrative, and despite a previous tribunal ruling going against him, Aplin successfully filed a discrimination case appeal, stating he had been a victim of “unfair dismissal and sexual orientation discrimination.” But the circumstances surrounding the case have caused some to wonder if justice was truly served, or if Aplin merely used the tools of identity politics to weigh the scales of justice in his favor.
With the age of consent in the UK being 16, Aplin did not technically break the law. However, school administrators deemed his actions inappropriate considering his position and invoked disciplinary procedures. After disputing the decision, he eventually chose to resign. But then, shortly after vacating his post, he filed the discrimination case with the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT).
Aplin claimed that an investigative report put together by a local council member on his personal actions was “biased and homophobic.” The tribunal agreed with him, arguing that he would have been treated with more leniency if he were a heterosexual man engaging in sexual activity with 17-year-old girls.
The tribunal, which sat in September 2017, said it had conducted two “hypothetical heterosexual comparators in Mr. Aplin’s position, one being a man who had had sex with two 17-year-old females and the other a woman who had had sex with two 17-year-old males,” concluding that these cases would be treated in a wildly different manner to that of Aplin’s.
Indeed, despite the tribunal claiming that the council member’s report was “laden with judgements and conclusions which were hostile to Mr. Aplin” in relation to his sexuality, there is no follow-up information on the official in question. As a UK resident, I have no doubt that if the investigating council member had submitted a verifiably anti-gay report to an official Employment Tribunal, a recommendation would have been handed down to have him removed from his position — and rightly so, legally speaking.
It is also important to note that the school’s governing body has also appealed to the EAT, claiming that the investigating officer’s approach had not discriminated against Mr Aplin because he was gay. Despite Aplin’s claims, the governing body itself was cleared of being discriminatory through taking disciplinary measures during an initial tribunal hearing.
Additionally, there is no information on Aplin’s current position, nor any confirmation that he was actually relieved from his post that went beyond a common disciplinary. Perhaps, then, this council official was simply treating the matter with investigative rigor and ensuring that, considering Aplin’s senior educational position, there was zero evidence of foul play.
Further, what real-life examples can the tribunal give with regards to its assertion that a female principal would have been treated differently in an identical scenario? You could argue that Aplin’s behavior, though not equating to a breaching of the law, was inappropriate — particularly as someone who was in a position of authority.
Playing the victim card
Assessing the intricacies of how these sexual encounters came about was also an absolute necessity and the duty of the investigating council member. Though the boys he engaged in sex with were over the threshold for consent, grooming and coercion is still something that needed to be ruled out, particularly when the individuals are under the age of 18. For Aplin, there should be nothing offensive about the thorough nature of an investigation into a 42-year-old adult who is responsible for the care and education of young people.
The interesting thing, however, is that Aplin did not launch his complaint on the basis that he had been asked to resign over something which was not technically illegal. Instead, he complained that he was treated unfairly as a homosexual.
If he was certain that he had remained above reproach as a school principal, surely this would have been the natural complaint to make — a simple objection to being disciplined for something that wasn’t harming anyone and, again legally, was nobody’s business. However, he chose to pick up on the sexuality aspect of the case, perhaps because he knew that this would be difficult for the Employment Tribunal officials to rule against.
What’s particularly troubling about this case is the fact that justice was determined based on the identity of the plaintiff, rather than the mere facts of the situation in question. The implications of this type of reasoning, also known as social justice logic, should concern those who believe a person’s identity is irrelevant to the morality of his or her actions.
According to social justice logic, the persecuted group (in this case, gay people) is perpetually the victim, so they can never be guilty. Discrimination is wrong, except for when it benefits those whom the social just camp deems victims (women, minorities, LGBT people, etc.). This, of course, inevitably leads to real victims getting ignored.
What if the council member who investigated Aplin had legitimate concerns about the wellbeing of vulnerable young students under the governance of a middle-aged man who is sexually engaged with their peers? As a parent, I certainly would have those concerns, regardless of the principal’s age or sexual preferences.
None of this matters according to social justice ideology, and that is a huge problem. When perpetual victimhood becomes the standard for morality, rather than transcendent truth, unjust discrimination abounds, and justice is heavily impeded.