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St Paul's Girls' School to rename role of 'head girl' because of its 'binary connotations'

·2 min read
St Paul's Girls' School
St Paul's Girls' School

The role of head girl at one of Britain’s leading girls’ schools will be renamed because it is seen as “too binary”.

St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith, which charges pupils £26,000-per-year, is to rename the position to head of school after pupils asked for it to be given a more inclusive title.

Helen Semple, the deputy head of the school, gave a training session in April during which it was claimed that there are at least 150 different gender identities.

The session, which was called ‘Beyond the Binary: Understanding how to be inclusive for all gender identities’, welcomed Emma Cusdin, a transgender woman whose company Global Butterflies “helps companies create trans inclusive working environments”.

"The LGBTQI world is an amazing rainbow of positivity and labels. We love labels. We love terminology, we love flags, we love parties," Ms Cusdin reportedly said at the meeting.

"Young people are finding amazing ways to self-identify. At the last count, we stopped counting at 150 gender identities that people are self-identifying [as]. We did a little quiz in terms of what the 150 are - I know about 30, in terms of what the definitions are.

Parents should not be “afraid to ask” their children about unfamiliar terminology surrounding gender and often “haven’t had access” to the same education around gender issues as school staff, Ms Cusin added.

Alumni of the school’s Old Paulina Community include Kate Bingham, the head of the UK’s Vaccine Task Force, and the television presenter Susanna Reid.

The school has denied the suggestion it should also change the name of the school on account of its use of the term ‘girls’.

In a statement given to The Times, high mistress Sarah Fletcher said that “reasoned and respectful discussion” was crucial to the development of the school’s pupils.

"We have never, and would never, encourage a student to 'be' anything in relation to their identity. We want our students to be happy as themselves,” she said.

“Our focus is on providing a respectful, kind, safe and non-judgmental environment in which our students are free to explore their own identity.”

"Young people are talking about gender identity and our role as a school is to equip the staff with an understanding that supports students' ability to reach out to them for support and navigate this safely.”

A spokesman for St. Paul's Girls' School said: "It was the suggestion of our senior students that we change the name from ‘Head Girl’ to ‘Head of School’ as more modern, age appropriate and inclusive.

"In doing so, we are returning to our roots. From our very foundation in 1904 and for decades afterwards, the senior student was called ‘Head of the School’, so in making the change, we are confirming, not denying, our ethos and traditions."

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