More than 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for the sacking of Richard Littlejohn, the Daily Mail columnist who wrote an offensive article about a transgender teacher.
Lucy Meadows was found dead in a house in Lancashire last Tuesday, after the Daily Mail outed her on a national scale in December.
Lancashire Police have said that there were no suspicious circumstances arising from Meadows’ death, and no link has been made between Littlejohn’s column and her death, however the petition is rapidly gaining signatures.
The petition is calling for the Daily Mail to “sack Richard Littlejohn, issue an apology, and institute an editorial review to ensure that this never happens again.” It claims Richard Littlejohn has been “playing on the outdated scare tactic that LGBT people are a threat to children.”
The Sum Of Us petition says: “The vile article led to a witch hunt targeting Meadows. Newspapers offered to pay parents for a picture of her, and she complained of having to leave home by the back door and arrive early to school to avoid the packs of journalists.”
Meadows had previously been known to pupils by her birth name, Nathan Upton, before transitioning with her school’s full support.
Her school wrote to parents in December 2012, informing them: “Mr Upton has recently made a significant changes in his life and will be transitioning to live as a woman. After the Christmas break, she will return to work as Miss Meadows.”
The letter was published in the media, outing Meadows on a national scale. Much of the coverage took a critical view of her decision, with many asking whether the transition was “appropriate” for a teacher.
Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn wrote about Meadows in a column, which claimed her transition would be too “challenging” for children.
“These are primary school children, for heaven’s sake. Most them still believe in Father Christmas. Let them enjoy their childhood. They will lose their innocence soon enough.”
He continued to write that he thought Meadows was entitled to gender reassignment surgery, but said that he thought her returning to the same school was “selfish”.
“By insisting on returning to St Mary Magdalen’s, he is putting his own selfish needs ahead of the well-being of the children he has taught for the past few years.
Since her death the column has been edited to remove the reference to Meadows.
The petition says: “Gender transition is only an issue for kids when the adults in their lives — many egged on by these sorts of offensive opinion pieces — make it out to be a problem.”