The first openly gay head boy has been appointed by a top British public school, who has already used his position to criticise recent revelations that some academies have been operating with policies resembling Section 28.
Will Emery, 17, the son of a banker, won the position in a landslide victory, as over 1,000 fellow pupils, as well as staff at Brighton College, voted for him, reports the Times.
Emery used his new position, which begins at the start of the new term, to criticise state schools and academies which have been accused of reviving the extremely controversial Section 28 – which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools.
The headmaster of the school, Richard Cairns said that students aged 13-18 saw sexuality as a “so-what” issue, but did say that it was “very unusual”, for a public school to appoint an openly gay head boy.
“When I announced that Will would be the next head of school, there was a huge round of applause,” he said.
“He was a very popular choice — the rugby players voted for him along with many others — but I bet if I wrote to the old boys and said our head boy was openly gay, some of them would think it was very strange indeed.”
Emery, who came out at the age of 14 to friends and family, said: “I don’t think my sexuality had any impact on my being chosen, but in other periods, when people had to hide their sexuality, it could have been a different story.”
Speaking of the accusations against several academies, the Cambridge University hopeful who scored four A grades at AS level said: “The issue is with the people running the schools . . . It’s a big thing for that generation who would have been brought up under Margaret Thatcher, when section 28 was implemented. They grew up in a society where homosexuality wasn’t spoken about. Their views need to be changed.”
Last week, the British Humanist Association found that scores of schools in England and Wales have had polices in place targeting the “promotion” of homosexuality, in language reminiscent of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. Section 28 banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools and was repealed in 2003.
Brighton College is a private school where boarding fees start at £27,000 a year. Last week’s GCSE results made the school the most succesful co-educaitonal school at that level in history.