A candlelit vigil in memory of transgender primary school teacher Lucy Meadows, found dead last week, was held outside the Daily Mail’s Kensington offices last night.
As many as 300 people from the transgender community turned up for the event, according to The Guardian.
The action comes as the newspaper is being called on to axe Richard Littlejohn’s column after he wrote about Meadows at the end of last year.
The Accrington Observer reported in December that a male primary school teacher, Nathan Upton, would be returning after the Christmas break as Miss Meadows.
The story quoted from a letter sent home to parents and prompted widespread press coverage.
Littlejohn was critical of the teacher shortly afterwards, with a Daily Mail column headlined: “He’s not in the wrong body… he’s in the wrong job”.
The columnist said he did not object to sex-change operations, but felt that in this case the teacher should have moved to a different school:
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.
The head teacher denies that pupils will be punished for referring to the teacher as Mr Upton but added ominously that they would be ‘expected to behave properly around her.’ Nathan Upton is entitled to his gender reassignment surgery, but he isn’t entitled to project his personal problems on to impressionable young children.
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.
It would have been easy for him to disappear quietly at Christmas, have the operation and then return to work as ‘Miss Meadows’ at another school on the other side of town in September. No-one would have been any the wiser.
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.
We, the undersigned, want a formal apology for the stress and pain that Richard Littlejohn and the Daily Mail caused Lucy Meadows and for Richard Littlejohn to be fired or resign from his post.
At time of writing more than 35,000 had signed the petition.
The Press Complaints Commission has confirmed that it received a complaint from Helen Belcher, of Trans Media Watch, about Littlejohn’s column following Meadows’ death.
The PCC told Press Gazette that they had received a previous complaint about the article and that the matter had been settled.
The Littlejohn column in question has been taken down from the Mail Online website.
She talks of her good luck in having a supportive head. But the stress of her situation is also visible. She complains bitterly of how she must leave her house by the back door, and arrive at school very early, or very late, in order to avoid the press pack.
She talks of the press offering other parents money for a picture of her; of how in the end they simply lifted an old picture from the Facebook pages of her brother and sister without permission. A Year 5 drawing removed from the school website was simply recovered through the magic of caching.
A spokesman for the Daily Mail told The Guardian: "It is regrettable that this tragic death should now be the subject of an orchestrated Twitterstorm, fanned by individuals – including former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell – with agendas to pursue."
Tonight's vigil starts at 6.30pm and is being advertised on the website www.lgbt.co.uk.