While many schools are marking LGBTQ+ Week (coinciding with LGBT History Month), St Dunstan’s College delivered an honest and personal message that has attracted widespread publicity

St Dunstan’s Headmaster Nicholas Hewlett made the decision to be open with his Senior School students and tell them he is a happily married gay man during a morning assembly on LGBTQ+ themes.

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”.

Hewlett believes it is important to give our young people role models that represent the reality of the adult world and that honesty about diversity can make a positive impact on their mental wellbeing. “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.”

St Dunstan's College Headmaster Nicholas Hewlett
Nicholas Hewlett

Hewlett gave the morning assembly talk to Senior School pupils as part of preparations for a week where LGBTQ+ issues are covered in lesson and form-group settings, and his assembly has also been shared online. As part of the talk, Hewlett paid tribute to St Dunstan’s alumnus and staff member Martin Preston, who was publicly outed in 1981 in the press. He also praised the school’s pupils of the time who chose to support him.

“Pupils rallied around their teacher; they had letters published in his support, going against cultural norms, and showed great humanity, respect and dignity,” he said. The St Dunstan’s Head told pupils that it is important to keep an open mind about their own identity and that of others, and that it’s OK not to know who you are just yet.

Speaking about his talk, and his decision to reference his own life, 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”.