Coming Out

Headteacher met with rapturous applause from whole school after coming out as gay in assembly

Danai Nesta Kupemba June 15, 2022
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Colin Scott came out to his student body in assembly. (Credit: Supplied)

A North Yorkshire headteacher was met with resounding applause by his secondary school when he bravely came out to them as gay, becoming the UK’s first-ever out state secondary head.

Colin Scott, headteacher of Risedale Secondary School, in Hipswell, Catterick Garrison, came out during a school assembly on Monday (13 June), organised to mark Pride Month.

His pupils were taken aback when Scott introduced his husband, Drew Dalton, a sociology lecturer at the University of Sunderland, who he has been married to since 2008. But the surprise dissipated and soon the assembly was filled with nothing but applause and admiration.

Dalton took to Twitter (13 June) following the assembly to praise Scott, writing: “So today, my husband @colindscott became the first ever U.K. state school secondary Headteacher to come out to his pupils #Pride2022 #edchat #education They applauded him + he has since received amazing emails from parents. I’m so proud of him 🙌 ❤️”

Although Scott’s colleagues knew about his sexuality, the student body did not, and he felt it was important to be a “role model” to his pupils.

Scott told The Guardian: “It made me feel guilty. Why can’t I be like my pupils? Why can’t I be honest with myself? There may be kids struggling with their sexuality and the position I’ve got means I can be a role model. A number of different things all clicked into place.”

The 54-year-old said he was also inspired by children today who are “able and willing to accept people than perhaps we were as kids”. He added: “I was tired of hiding it. I can now take my husband to social events… I don’t need to hide it.”

Following his public coming out, Scott said: “The assembly wasn’t about me, it was about individuality… but the kids clapped me, the whole school, it did make me a bit tearful.”

Scott noted that if he had come out 15 or 20 years ago, he would have derailed his career. But now he’s basking not only in the applause and praise of his students, but also in the relief that he no longer has to hide a part of himself.

He said: “They still think I’m a git. But a number did come up and say they were proud of me, which is totally not what I expected.”

Colin Scott and his partner Drew Dalton have been married since 2008. (Credit: Supplied)

Before Scott became headteacher of Risedale Secondary School, he had an illustrious career. He was part of the Royal Navy before the ban on homosexuality was lifted in 2000.

Scott said: “I suppressed who I was and I struggled. I don’t blame the navy, by the way, the navy was great for me. But I realised I had to get out before I got found out.”

After he left the Navy, Scott went on to become a teacher and then later headteacher at Risedale. During his time as a teacher there have been great strides for better inclusivity when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, most significantly the removal of Section 28.

The bigoted Section 28 legislation, was introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in 1988, and banned the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities, barred LGBTQ+ students from seeking advice and prevented councils from funding LGBTQ+ initiatives, was removed in Scotland in 2000, and in England and Wales in 2003.

In a speech supporting that predated the passing of Section 28 in 1987 Thatcher said: “Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay. All of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life.”

In 2018 the Baroness Knight, the woman who introduced the legislation into parliament said she was “sorry” and regretted her actions in an interview with the BBC.

Knight commented on the aftermath of Section 28 and said it was meant to be for “wellbeing of children and if I got that wrong well, I’m sorry”.

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