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Transgender Teacher Kills Self After Being Bullied By Newspaper

Transgender Teacher Kills Self After Being Bullied By Newspaper

Lucy Meadows, a teacher at St. Mary Magdalen primary school in Accrington, in the north of England, committed suicide last week.

From The Manchester Evening News:

[Headteacher Karen Hardman] said: “News of Lucy’s death has come as a tremendous shock to everyone in the school. She was a greatly valued member of our staff and we send her family and friends our sympathy and prayers.

“We are working closely with the county council and the diocese to ensure we offer our pupils and staff the support they need.

“I would ask people to respect the privacy of everyone involved at this difficult time.”

Any suicide is sad, but this one is especially so: just three months ago Richard Littlejohn, writing in The Daily Mail, attacked Ms. Meadows for being transgender and deciding to remain in her teaching position after beginning to present as a woman. Rather than sympathizing with someone who is going through such a painful and complicated stage in her life, Littlejohn took the path of vilifying her.

This in spite of the fact that the Church of England school was standing with her and supporting her decision. Last December the head teacher, in her Christmas message to parents, announced that Mr. Upton had made a significant change in his life, and  would be transitioning to live as a woman, returning to work as Miss Meadows. The newsletter stressed that the school was ‘proud of our commitment to equality and diversity’.

Kudos to St. Mary Magdelen school. Not all religious schools would have been so supportive.

Apparently Richard Littlejohn, on reading this, needed to use his power as a journalist with the UK’s biggest newspaper to spread his hateful message.

Here are a few of the choice remarks from his article:

The school shouldn’t be allowed to elevate its ‘commitment to diversity and equality’ above its duty of care to its pupils and their parents.

It should be protecting pupils from some of the more, er, challenging realities of adult life, not forcing them down their throats.

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.

I assume Mr. Littlejohn is not a parent, and has not worked with kids too much. Children often accept things much more readily than adults do.

And this:

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.

You don’t get it, do you, Mr. Littlejohn? The very fact that Lucy Meadows has taught these youngsters for several years means that they know her, and trust her. Sure, they probably had plenty of questions for her, but she was still basically an excellent teacher, and they loved her.

Or this:

But has anyone stopped for a moment to think of the devastating effect all this is having on those who really matter? Children as young as seven aren’t equipped to compute this kind of information.

Far from not being able to handle information about their teacher, children will just take what they can, and then move on. Children are resilient, and they know what’s going on. They also don’t appreciate being lied to.

Finally, there’s this assault on Ms. Meadows:

But if he cares so little for the sensibilities of the children he is paid to teach, he’s not only trapped in the wrong body, he’s in the wrong job.

This is vicious journalism, written with the specific intent of denigrating this woman and putting her painful struggles on display for all to read.

It’s true that suicides often have multiple causes, but the ultra-conservative Daily Mail reaches millions, and therefore Littlejohn’s article must have been devastating for Lucy Meadows to read.

Too late now, but you won’t find any mention of this blog in the Daily Mail any more. Apparently they have decided to completely remove it. Do they fear being held liable in this death?

Or does Littlejohn have some remorse for his vile deed?

The reality is that the newspaper jumped on a melodramatic headline about transsexuals, and used their power to ridicule and dehumanize an innocent human being. They outed her across the nation, and also insisted on using “he” and his former, male, name. This is truly an evil, immoral use of journalism.

 

Care2 Related Coverage

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204 comments

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9:27AM PDT on May 15, 2014

This is just horrible. I don't think the little kids would have made a big deal out of it if they liked their teacher so much. And just because a teacher is transgender, does not mean they're going to use their position to "brainwash" the kids for some "evil purpose" or something, that's completely ridiculous. I'm sorry to hear about this.

4:57AM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

What is it with going back to the Stone Age?

3:16PM PDT on Apr 19, 2013

This tragedy made it to the American press, and this journalist was just pummled in the media.

11:52PM PDT on Apr 6, 2013

very sad :( Mr Littlejohn's comments (as cited) are appalling :|

2:10AM PDT on Apr 3, 2013

a tragedy there was probably further reason for lucy taking her life. However the public bullying and barrage by the newspaper is completly unacceptable and they should issue an apology

2:02AM PDT on Apr 3, 2013

What a sad story.. i wish my deepest condolences to Lucy's family and friends.

What a horrible man to have pushed this woman to this tragic end! I hope that guilt will force him to change and be a better man who will become more open minded and sensitive towards other people

4:06PM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

Sad

2:26PM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

this is a tragic story that will hopefully never be repeated. littlejohn and the daily mail obviously made the transiition publicly difficult. however, and i'm not saying it was okay what they did, people must have said or written to Lucy to make it worse. while i don't know anything about her, i doubt Lucy would commit suicide only b/c of the article. i believe it was many people that drove her into depression.

2:00PM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

It is absolutely heartbreaking that a journalist could bully someone like this. For someone who was arguing about teaching children the right thing, Littlejohn has just taught children and adults around the UK that bullying is acceptable. He is disgusting and despicable.

Additionally, it is heartbreaking that Lucy Meadows was in a supportive, loving community who accepted her through this transition (something that should be a given but that so many communities, unfortunately, would not do), which was torn down by one man.

Littlejohn thought explaining that their male-bodied teacher has transitioned to presenting as the woman she is would be difficult? That they can understand; that's easy. Try explaining to them that the teacher they love committed suicide. That is truly something they may never understand, and it will stay with them forever. I hope the children and others in the community recover, and I hope Lucy's family stays strong. Rest in peace, Lucy.

1:20PM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

Sad

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Judy Molland An award-winning writer and teacher, Judy Molland is also an avid hiker, backpacker, and nature... more
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