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Friday, July 10, 1998 Published at 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK


Education

When Miss becomes Sir

The school's headteacher wrote to more than 1,000 parents

More than 1,000 parents have been told that a teacher at the school their children attend is having a sex change.

The headteacher of King James's School, in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, wrote to parents informing them that a drama teacher is planning to change from a Miss to a Mr during the summer holidays.

Miss Lisa Garside, 36, will be known as Mr Michael Garside when the new term starts in September.

Miss Garside, who has taught at the co-educational comprehensive since qualifying as a teacher 14 years ago, praised pupils, staff and parents for they way they have handled the announcement.

The reaction from the school has been supportive since the headteacher, David Hudson, wrote to parents.

Miss Garside said: "You hear horror stories about being discarded by everyone. I have had nothing but support, pats on the back, and parents who have phoned the school.

"I have had nothing but good reactions from the pupils and all the classes I have had have been superb. No comments, no nothing."

Operations

Miss Garside said she had considered changing gender for a number of years and will embark on a hormone replacement programme as soon as possible, but operations are still a long way off.

Parents should not worry about the effect of her change in gender, she said.

"There is not an issue. I am still the same teacher who has taught their pupils for 14 years.

"The style is not going to change and it has been successful so far.

"There comes a point where one has to be strong enough to make that decision.

"I am looking forward to being left alone, being me, being one person rather than having to play a role which is very tiring."

The school's deputy head teacher, Dr Carole Walton, said the announcement had gone smoothly.

Surprise

"Parent reaction has been favourable, maybe because it's not too much of an issue.

"We have not had too much contact but what we have had is good.

"I suppose it was a surprise. It is not something you expect but it wasn't an issue for us, but we have dealt with it in a matter-of-fact way."

The letter from the headteacher said: "We cover in full all aspects of equal opportunities, anti-racism, prejudice and sexual discrimination. The school will very shortly be called upon to show that it practises what it preaches.

"It has been an excruciatingly difficult decision for her and has required a great deal of courage.

"It will be difficult for all of us, but I have no doubt that the moral and supportive atmosphere at King James will see us through this challenging transition."





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