Harry Potter's JK Rowling replaced by Kelly Holmes on Essex school house name over trans comments

A school that named one of its houses after JK Rowling has changed it in light of her comments of trans people Credit: Press Association

A school house honouring JK Rowling has been renamed after students and staff objected to the Harry Potter author's "comments and viewpoints surrounding trans people".

The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, replaced the name Rowling with Holmes - after Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes.

Its headteacher, Stephen Mansell, said it followed "numerous requests from students and staff" and was confirmed by a whole-school vote.

Announcing the decision to review the house name last summer, a newsletter explained the schools' six houses were "represented by British citizens who have excelled".

It added: "However, following numerous requests by students and staff we are reviewing the name of our red house 'Rowling' and in light of JK Rowling's comments and viewpoints surrounding trans people.

"Her views on this issue do not align with our school policy and school beliefs - a place where people are free to be."

The decision came days after the cast of the Harry Potter films were reunited for a 20th anniversary celebration, with Rowling appearing only in archive clips. She has previously been criticised for her views by both Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, who played Harry Potter and Hermione Granger respectively in the film series.

Rowling, the author of the boy wizard books, has become a controversial figure over her comments on gender identity.

In 2020, she responded to an article headlined "Creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate" by tweeting: "'People who menstruate.' I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

Rowling, who vehemently denies she is transphobic, defended her comments, saying: "If sex isn't real, there's no same-sex attraction."

The 56-year-old has said she was partly motivated to speak out about transgender issues because of her experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Headteacher Mr Mansell said: "At The Boswells School we foster a vibrant, inclusive and democratic school community, where we encourage students to develop into independent, confident citizens.

"In autumn 2021, we reviewed and renamed one of our school houses following numerous requests from students and staff, as well as a whole-school vote.

"The house, which represents the 'self-discipline' area of the Boswells Learning Bridge, is now named Holmes, after Dame Kelly Holmes."

The Boswell School's other five houses are named after Sir David Attenborough, Charlotte Bronte, 16-year-old Victoria Cross recipient and First World War soldier John Travers Cornwell, Stephen Hawking and Florence Nightingale.