Statement from the Headteacher

Headteacher Statement

Statement from the Headteacher

As you may be aware, some local and national papers are reporting about the inquest into the death of a Wycombe High School student Leo Etherington.

Media statement

Wycombe High School and Martin Etherington, Father of the deceased Leo Etherington, are issuing a joint complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) relating to inaccurate, misleading and insensitive media reporting of the inquest into Leo’s death, held on 30th August 2017.

The complaint directly references Martin Etherington’s statement to the inquest, which clearly dates a discussion between Leo Etherington and Wycombe High School about a possible name change, at two years prior to Leo’s death.  Martin Etherington said: “Some media reports imply that Leo’s death was immediately after a request to change his name in school was made.  This is not the case.  It was two years after the request was made that Leo took his own life.  In fact, shortly after the request was made, Leo communicated in writing to the school his wish to be known as Louise.  It is also misleading to say that Leo was ‘angry’ with the school at the time of his death.”

Wycombe High School’s procedure in relation to name change requests is to allow a student to be called by a chosen alternative name within school, although a name cannot be legally changed by a child through a deed poll until the age of 16.

Wycombe High School has an equality policy and a transgender procedure.  The school has supported several transgender students and students who have changed their names both inside and outside of school. The school has a Gender and Sexualities Alliance Club for students, which Leo enjoyed attending.

Martin Etherington said: “Leo did not wish to be labelled.  He was in a transitional period and his family, friends, and school staff knew him by different names and I and the school respected this.   Leo was content to be called Leo, Louise or Alex.  The school environment is such that Leo felt comfortable to come out at school before he came out at home – it is a testament to the school’s pastoral care that he felt comfortable to do so.

“Immediately following Leo’s death, Wycombe High School organised counselling and support sessions for other students and staff, a musical concert and fundraising day for Gender Identity Development Service, and a balloon releasing ceremony at which I reiterated that all students and staff should feel free to call Louise / Leo / Alex by the name with which they knew him. 

“The circumstances surrounding Leo’s death are extremely complex and I do not believe that the school could have been more supportive of him or of our family.”

Sharon Cromie, Executive Headteacher of Wycombe High School said: “Wycombe High School has a diverse and inclusive student community.  The school is accepting, tolerant of and promotes individual differences and treats everyone with equal respect.   There is a comprehensive Equalities and Cohesion Scheme in place, which includes gender reassignment, and which is available on the school’s website.”

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family at this sad and difficult time and we hope that the media will respect Leo’s Father’s wishes for privacy and sensitivity.”

 

 

 



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