A headmaster at an exclusive private school in the United Kingdom is believed to have made history yesterday when he came out to students and faculty at the start of the school’s LGBTQ week. Nicholas Hewlett made the revelation to his students at St. Dunstan’s College in Catford, southeast London, during a virtual assembly Monday, according to The Times.
“My only regret is not doing it earlier, because seven years of children will have gone through the school without the benefit of a role model.” Hewlett told the Times.
The 41-year-old Hewlett, who has been happily married to Alberic Elsom, the director of music at the Whitgift School in Croydon, since 2014, received messages of support from students, parents, and the faculty. Things weren’t always so pleasant, though. He recalled that the environment in education previously wasn’t so inclusive and affirming.
“15 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," he said of that time.
During the assembly, Hewlett reminded students how the school responded as a community in 1981 when a former pupil and staff member, Martin Preston, was outed.
“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,” he said.
He decided to come out now because it felt like the right thing to do for not just himself, but for his students.
“The reality that role-models really do matter and can have a material impact on the mental wellbeing of young people,” Hewlett explained. “For children, being educated by a diversity of adults who represent differing race, gender, sexuality and background, helps identities to settle and grow.”
Hewlett’s public announcement was met with widespread support from the community after a video of the assembly was posted to the school’s social media. One parent was particularly moved, and wrote they were “please and proud” their their son is part of the “wonderful St Dunstan’s community. What you are doing here is so important. Thank you!”