The multi-award winning author Juno Dawson has had her visit to a Catholic school cancelled because she’s transgender.
Dawson has been visiting schools across the UK to promote her latest book, ‘Margot and Me’, and was due to visit Brownedge St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Preston, Lancashire. However, just 48 hours before her visit Dawson received news that the event had been cancelled.
Speaking to BuzzFeed news, the author has said that a member of the school staff informed the company that had organised the visit that the event had been deemed ‘inappropriate’, stating that the ‘subject matter’ meant that ‘they didn’t think it was suitable’.
‘It’s a perfectly appropriate book for that audience,’ Dawson said. ‘All week I’ve been speaking to year seven and eights with no problems – in a mixture of grammar schools, private schools, faith schools, all sorts of different schools.’
Dawsons latest book, ‘Margot and Me’, is aimed at teenage readers and follows a teenage girl named Fliss, who is staying with her grandmother in Wales whilst her mother recuperates from chemotherapy, and the diary she finds made by her grandmother in the 1940’s.
The visit would have consisted with a discussion about the book and its historical context, including the role of women in the 20th century. After the visit was cancelled one of the event organisers contacted the school to try to make other arrangements for the visit, including speaking to an older year group. However, a member of the school staff informed them that the senior staff had ‘forbidden’ Dawson’s visit.
Dawson has said that she was deeply upset by the school’s position. ‘I went through stages – the first was I felt personally attacked and quite mortified. But then I became angry as I very quickly realised that you can’t do that – you can’t discriminate against people because of their gender.’
‘There will be young people at Brownedge who will be LGBT. Those kids knew I was coming and now I’m not. It beggars belief. One does wonder what kind of support those kids are getting.’
Since the publication of the original BuzzFeed article the school has removed their tweet to Juno Dawson to say that they were looking forward to her coming visit.
The headteacher of Brownedge, Martin Reynolds, has denied that the event has been cancelled, claiming that they had instead requested that it be rescheduled until later in the year, denying any allegations of discrimination.
Dawson and the event organisers have said that the school’s response in untrue, as they have not requested the event to be held at a different time, and that they have turned away all attempts to reorganise the visit. Reynolds’ response has been labelled as ‘back-peddling’.
‘I won’t be the only person this is happening to, and historically trans people have really struggled with employment, because we feel we can’t survive in the workplace.’ Dawson has said. ‘I consider myself very privileged in that I’m freelance and work within the arts, but this was a brutal reminder that for trans people employment is really hard and that’s why I couldn’t let it go.’
Dawson is planning to write to the head of the school and is considering taking legal advice.