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Performing arts school drops JK Rowling over transgender row

EXCLUSIVE: JK Rowling is cancelled again: Performing arts school drops Harry Potter author’s name from house over her views on transgender rights

  • The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, had named a house after JK Rowling
  • But it claimed that students and staff had requested her association be reviewed
  • Rowling was erased from an image of the house name in school newsletter
  • Then it was announced Dame Kelly Holmes would become its new figure
  • Not all parents have been thrilled with the decision to remove Rowling 

A secondary school specialising in performing arts has quietly cancelled Harry Potter author JK Rowling – replacing her as a house name over her ‘comments and viewpoints surrounding trans people’.

The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, had honoured the writer for one of its in-school groups, which had also been labelled with the quality of ‘self-discipline’.

But it emerged today she had been replaced over the summer with Olympic hero Dame Kelly Holmes.

The school had announced plans to review Rowling’s name in July after ‘requests from students and staff’. 

Then in September it announced from names put forward by staff, the whole school had selected Dame Kelly.

One parent 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.’ 

The school’s issues with Rowling, 56, were laid bare in a newsletter seen by MailOnline, which featured an image of the house logo with the writer’s name erased.

The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, had named a house after writer JK Rowling

The school claimed students and staff had asked for the Rowling name to be reviewed

The school decided that Olympic hero Dame Kelly Holmes should replace her on the house

A series of newsletters showed how the name was erased from the school house badge

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.’

It is a far cry from when they announced her for the title.

The school – whose head teacher is Stephen Mansell – had then called her ‘the much-loved series of seven Harry Potter novels’.

They insisted she was perfect for the ‘self-discipline’ themed house because ‘Rowling states that success takes constant practice, self-discipline and requires us to get up when we fail and try again.

‘However, if we do not complete the tasks we set ourselves, then we will never create a foundation of self-trust and discipline to improve on in the first place.’

That was then: JK is pictured with Rupert and Danielle at the Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone in 2001

Actors Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Eddie Redmayne, who stars in her Fantastic Beasts films, have previously criticised the author for her remarks

Other house names paying respect to Sir David Attenbrough, Charlotte Bronte, John Travers Cornwell VC, Stephen Hawking and Florence Nightingale are still in place. 

The school did not respond to a request today from MailOnline to comment on the name change. 

Boswell has a long history of performers and its alumni include the late Prodigy singer Keith Flint as well as cricketer Aaron Beard.

Rowling, 56 faced accusations of transphobia after she mocked an online article in June 2020 which used the words ‘people who menstruate’ instead of ‘women’.

She later defended herself against the claims in a passionate essay but has been criticised by some ever since.

Last week she hit back at a claim on US website that she believed there are only two genders.

Rowling wrote: ‘Small but important point: I’ve never said there are only two genders. There are innumerable gender identities.

‘The question at the heart of this debate is whether sex or gender identity should form the basis of decisions on safeguarding, provision of services, sporting categories and other areas where women and girls currently have legal rights and protections.

Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School in Richmond made the changes in October

Sir Winston Churchill and JK Rowling will no longer be names used for the schools houses

‘Using the words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ interchangeably obscures the central issue of this debate.

‘If you’re interested in what I actually said, see this – (in which I literally say ‘trans lives matter’ and ‘trans rights are human rights.’).’

In the past few weeks debate erupted about whether or not Rowling would appear in the upcoming Harry Potter reunion on Sky.

It was revealed that, in clips of the New Year’s Day special, stars had praised ‘the power of her writing’ and that she would appear in archive footage. 

She is also seen in a segment from 2019 discussing the uphill struggle to find an actor to play Harry when casting the first movie, The Philosopher’s Stone.

The eagerly-anticipated reunion sees Daniel join fellow leads Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger, and Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley, as well as a slew of fellow co-stars in marking 20 years since the franchise first aired.

Despite the star-studded turn out, the author behind the stratospherically successful franchise was not in attendance at the reunion special – sparking outrage from some fans who accused makers of attempting to erase her over her views.

MailOnline told two months ago how Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School in Richmond cancelled Winston Churchill and Rowling for not being diverse enough,

It previously had houses named after the Prime Minister and the Harry Potter author – alongside Sir David Attenborough and Emmeline Pankhurst.

The school – which caters for young children aged three to 11 – claims pupils had asked for the house names to be more diverse. 

It then replaced Churchill and Rowling with England star Marcus Rashford and nurse Mary Seacole.

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