22 Mar '13

News Transgender teacher found dead at Lancashire home

Teacher began term as a woman after previously working at same primary school as a man

A male primary school teacher who began the new term as a woman has been found dead.

Pupils and parents were informed in December that Nathan Upton, 32, was transitioning from male to female and would return to the school as Lucy Meadows.

Students at St Mary Magdalen's School in Accrington, Lancashire, were asked to address the teacher as Miss Meadows when they arrived back from the Christmas break.

Her body was discovered at a house in Accrington at around 4.45pm on Tuesday. Police are not treating the death as suspicious.

Headteacher Karen Hardman described Meadows as a "valued member of staff" and said the school would be working with bereavement teams to offer support to the children.

"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."

The Blackburn Diocese Board of Education said it is working with the school to offer pastoral and practical support. A spokesman said: "We are deeply saddened to hear the news about Lucy Meadows. Our thoughts and prayers go out first to her family and friends at this extremely difficult time.

"Also in our prayers are the staff and pupils at the school for whom this news will have been a tremendous shock.

"Lucy was a valued and well-liked member of the team at St Mary Magdalen's and her loss will be felt deeply by everyone associated with the school.

"We would ask that the school is left in peace to allow that response to be managed as effectively as possible."

Meadows' transition was announced in a school newsletter notifying parents and guardians of staff changes. It read: "Mr Upton has recently made a significant change in his life and will be transitioning to live as a woman. After the Christmas break, she will return to work as Miss Meadows."

Parents said that year six pupils, aged between 10 and 12, had been informed that the teacher felt she had been "born with a girl's brain in a boy's body".

However, some parents were reported to have complained that their children were too young to understand transgender issues and were confused and upset by the sudden change.

In a statement before Christmas, Meadows said: "This has been a long and difficult journey for me, and it was certainly not an easy decision to make.

"I am grateful to governors and colleagues at St Mary Magdalen's for their support. I'd now ask for my privacy to be respected so that I can continue with my job, which I'm committed to and which I enjoy very much."

A spokeswoman for Lancashire police said: "At 4.45pm on Tuesday, police were called by the ambulance service to a report of a sudden death at an address on Ramsbottom Street in Accrington.

"On arrival they found the body of a 32-year-old woman. There are no suspicious circumstances and a file will be prepared and passed to the coroner."

A postmortem examination has been carried out and details have been passed to the Hyndburn coroner.

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