School drops JK Rowling house name amid controversy over gender identity remarks

A secondary school that named a house after JK Rowling has dropped the title in light of the Harry Potter author’s “comments and viewpoints surrounding trans people”.

The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, has changed the name of its red house from Rowling to Holmes – honouring Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes.

A school newsletter in July 2021 said its six houses are “represented by British citizens who have excelled”.

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

The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, that named a house after JK Rowling has dropped the title in light of the Harry Potter author's "comments and viewpoints surrounding trans people"

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“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.”

The newsletter featured an image of the house logo with Rowling’s name erased, and the new name was later revealed.

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The other five houses are named after Sir David Attenborough, Charlotte Bronte, John Travers Cornwell VC, Stephen Hawking and Florence Nightingale.

Rowling, the author of the boy wizard books who penned much of the Potter series in Edinburgh, has become a controversial figure over her comments on gender identity.

In 2020, she responded to an article headlined “Creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate”.

She tweeted: “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

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Rowling vehemently denies she is transphobic saying: “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction.”

The 56-year-old has said she was partly motivated to speak out about transgender issues because of her experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Stephen Mansell, headteacher of The Boswells School, said: “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.

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“The house, which represents the ‘self-discipline’ area of the Boswells Learning Bridge, is now named Holmes, after Dame Kelly Holmes.”