A school headmaster in Catford marked the start of LGBT+ History Month with an inspiring move of openness and acceptance.
Nicholas Hewlett from St Dunstan’s College came out to his staff and pupils through an online assembly on February 1.
Hewlett, whose announcement has been picked up by national media organisations, said in a tweet: “The fact that this is still news of course tells its own story, but if it can help just one young person feel more comfortable in their skin, it is surely an act worth doing.”
The headmaster of the private school in Lewisham borough announced that he was a happily married gay man.
The virtual assembly made history as it is believed to be the first time a headteacher has come out as gay in front of the whole school community.
The video of the assembly on Youtube had been viewed nearly 7,000 times as of February 3.
‘Wonderful messages of support’
Messages of support flooded in on Twitter from across the globe.
Hewlett, 41, thanked everyone for the “wonderful messages of support.”
He said: “St Dunstan’s College deserves to feel very proud of its diverse and inclusive community.
“In times of uncertainty, we need our values more than ever. They are precious and must be cherished.”
The announcement was inspired by the openness of a pupil at the school. Hewlett hopes to act as a role model and regrets not doing this sooner.
The Department for Education told the Times: “We trust teachers and school leaders to make decisions about what’s appropriate to discuss with pupils. By the end of secondary education, all pupils should receive teaching on LGBT relationships. Schools are free to determine how they do this.”
LGBTQ+ History Month aims to “educate out prejudice” and promote diversity and visibility.
In the assembly, Hewlett looked back on the story of a former pupil who became a religious studies teacher and chaplain at St Dunstan’s in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Martin Preston.
Preston was openly gay and in 1981, the editor of the Private Eye Magazine tried to expose his sexuality publicly.
The pupils rallied around Preston in support with letters praising his tolerance, social liberalism and civilised values “long before it was fashionable”.
Hewlett stressed that this “went against the cultural norms of the time”. Preston, who after his retirement advocated for gay rights and performed other humanitarian work, died last month.