JK Rowling: Performing arts school drops Harry Potter author amid transgender row

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  • J. K. Rowling
    J. K. Rowling
    British novelist
  • Kelly Holmes
    British middle distance athlete and Olympic gold medallist
JK Rowling (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)
JK Rowling (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

A secondary school that specialises in performing arts has axed its association with JK Rowling following an outcry from students over her views on transgender issues.

The Boswells School in Chelmsford had paid tribute to the Harry Potter author by naming one of its school houses after her.

But she has now been replaced by Olympic athlete Dame Kelly Holmes after “requests from students and staff”.

In a newsletter seen by MailOnline, the school announced its intention in July to review the name of its “Rowling” house “in light” of her “comments and viewpoints surrounding trans people”.

It said: “The Boswells House System embeds a sense of community, friendship and healthy competition amongst both students and staff.

“A strong house identity empowers our students to participate and thrive in all aspects of school life, both in and out of the classroom.

“Here at the Boswells we have 6 Houses which are represented by British citizens who have excelled in an area of our Boswells Learning Bridge which includes integrity, emotional intelligence, grit, resourcefulness, self-discipline and bravery.

“However, following numerous requests by students and staff we are reviewing the name of our red house ‘Rowling’ and in light of J.K Rowling’s comments and viewpoints surrounding trans people.

“Her views on this issue do not align with our school policy and school beliefs – a place where people are free to be.

“Staff have been invited to put forward suggestions of names for the house. Once shortlisted a vote will go out to the whole school to select a new House name.’

However, one parent decried the move as “censorship” and said many did not want Rowling’s name removed.

They said: “This is censorship - JK Rowling is a good example of achievement through adversity.

“Not everyone thought she should go, a lot of schools seem to be doing the same thing at the moment sadly.”

JK Rowling received criticism from activists in 2020 after mocking the use of the phrase ‘people who menstruate’ in mental health guidance.

The author was also subjected to scrutiny for criticising the view that male and female sexes do not exist.

She has previously argued that “erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives”.

Stephen Manswell, Headteacher of The Boswells School, told the Standard: “At The Boswells School we foster a vibrant, inclusive and democratic school community, where we encourage students to develop into independent, confident citizens.

“In autumn 2021, we reviewed and renamed one of our school houses following numerous requests from students and staff, as well as a whole school vote. The house, which represents the ‘Self Discipline’ area of the Boswells Learning Bridge, is now named Holmes, after Dame Kelly Holmes.”

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