School drops JK Rowling and Winston Churchill from house names over their ‘intolerant’ views

JK Rowling and Winston Churchill have been dropped from the house names of an East Sussex school after students said their “intolerant” views did not represent them, with Rowling’s “recent words about the trans community” mentioned in the letter

Parents at Seaford Head School received a note – which was marked as being from students – which said JK Rowling would no longer deemed suitable as she does not “represent the school’s core values” after her trans comments.

“As a school committed to stopping bullying and creating a safe environment, we no longer think that JK Rowling is a suitable representative, because of her recent words about the trans community,” the letter read.

“Intolerance and discrimination are treated very severely by our school and we do not want to promote anyone or anything that encourages such prejudice.”

One of  JK Rowling’s earliest trans tweets was sent on June 6 2020, when she retweeted an op-ed piece that discussed “people who menstruate,” taking issue with the gender-neutral phrase. “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” she wrote.

The letter also said the secondary school will drop Churchill as a house name, as it believes the former British prime minister was a “figure who promoted racism”. 

“Churchill could be considered an important historical figure,” it read.

“However, we are now more aware that Churchill was a figure who promoted racism and inequality, unfairly imprisoning and torturing many.”

Other houses are named for Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela and founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale.

Winston Churchill

April 1939: British Conservative politician Winston Churchill. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

New house names will be decided across the board.

The students have decided to change the names of the houses so that the system “reflects the local community” and so that “each house can create a new collective identity based on shared values”. 

As such, it’s been proposed that the house names will be changed to local geographical landmarks. According to The Argus, possible new names could be Tide Mills House, Cuckmere Haven House, Friston House, Birling House, Beacon House, Hindover House, Blatchington House and Westmeston House.

The new names will be decided through a student vote. 

However, not everyone was happy with the changes. One parent, who didn’t wish to be named, told The Argus: “I am surprised about Winston Churchill, I think we do need to honour his achievements in history.

“He helped us fight back the evil of Hitler’s Nazi Germany – surely he deserves to be celebrated for this.”

East Sussex County Council said it would not be commenting on the matter. 

A spokeswoman for the Seaford Head said: “The student leadership group decided to consult on the names of the four houses with a view to re-introducing house names that are routed in the local community. This exercise involves all of the student body.”