The headmaster of Lewisham’s St Dunstan’s College’s came out as gay to his students during assembly, saying if it helped any of his pupils it was an ‘act worth doing’.
The 41-year-old said he felt ‘duty-bound’ to be a role model to his students, and challenge the notion that only ‘white, heterosexual men’ can get ahead.
He told them he was a happily married, gay man during a special senior school assembly to mark LGBTQ+ week.
Speaking about his decision, Nicholas Hewlett said: “Fifteen years ago, I was told by a senior colleague in the independent school I was then working in that, as an openly gay man, it would be virtually impossible for me to become a headmaster.
“Today, in my seventh year as head of St Dunstan’s College, I have taken the decision to be transparent and open about my sexuality with the pupils under my care.
“The reality that role models really do matter and can have a material impact on the mental wellbeing of young people.
“For children, being educated by a diversity of adults who represent differing race, gender, sexuality and background, helps identities to settle and grow.
“More than this, it helps cultivate an ethos of inclusion and respect, preventing the narrow-minded rhetoric, superiority and inward-looking identities that have come to characterise far too many of our country’s institutions.
‘Furthermore, I believe we are duty-bound to stop the pervasive, increasingly subconscious, view that professional success needs to look a certain way; that white, heterosexual men are in some way inherently advantaged in assuming positions of responsibility and leadership.”
He added: “If by standing up and ‘coming out’ to my pupils, it helps one young person be more comfortable in their own skin, more empowered to be themselves, and further engenders a culture of respect, inclusion, and the championing of individuality, surely it is an act worth doing?”
During his speech he also told students about what it was like for gay men in the not so distant past, remembering former pupil and staff member at the Catford school, Martin Preston, who was publicly outed in 1981.
“Pupils rallied around their teacher; they had letters published in his support, going against cultural norms, and showed great humanity, respect and dignity, and in apparent direct contradiction to the views of the headmaster of that time, who apparently took a very different view,’ Mr Hewlett explained.
View the assembly here: https://youtu.be/WIsAjlNGmFU