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School fights back after referring to dead transgender boy as a girl

Nick Duffy September 4, 2017

A school has fought back after releasing a statement referring to a dead transgender boy by his female name.

15-year-old Leo Etherington had attended Wycombe High School – a girls’ grammar school in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

The transgender teen took his own life last year, after teachers at the school allegedly refused to refer to him by his new name and told him they would not respect his transition until he turned 16.

In a statement released after his death, the school had continued to refer to Leo by his female name, writing: “[Old name] was a wonderful person in every way and is missed by us all.”

Wycombe High School headteacher Sharon Cromie has since hit back at negative media coverage after Leo’s death was ruled a suicide in an inquest.

Her new statement again uses the pupil’s former female name, alongside his chosen name and another nickname.

She said: “Some local and national papers are reporting about the inquest into the death of a WHS student [Old name]/ Alex / Leo Etherington. Please be aware that some details in the press coverage are inaccurate.

​”[Old name]/ Leo / Alex Etherington was a wonderful young person, in every respect and popular and well-liked by all.

“The death of a young person is always deeply upsetting and our thoughts at this time are with the family & friends.

“Wycombe High School has comprehensive procedures for supporting transgender young people and their families.

“I cannot comment on any individual case. However, I can advise that our procedures support name changes.”

Leo’s father Martin Etherington, his lone parent after his mother died from cancer in 2013, had told the inquest that the teen had been angry that teachers continued to refer to him by his female name when he transitioned to male.

There is no legitimate reason why a school would refuse to respect the identity of a student.

The court heard that Leo had a “support network” of friends and family who had been supportive of his transition.

His dad had attended sessions at the gender identity clinic with Leo, and even offered to fund gender re-assignment treatment after failing to get NHS funding.

According to the Telegraph, he told the inquest: “I told Leo I would fund any surgery when the time came.”

Assistant Coroner Alison McCormick recorded a verdict of suicide.

She told Leo’s dad: “You provided [him] with all the help and support [he] could have hoped for.

“I hope you can draw some comfort from that.”

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org). ​Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

More: dead, death, Education, female, LGBT, school, suicide, Trans, Transgender

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