Dr Neal Hovelmeier the former Deputy Headmaster, at St Johns College in Harare who resigned this week has said that he did not anticipate the resentment and anger that his decision to come out as gay would cause. Hovelmeier resigned following threats from some quarters over his decision to come out. We publish his resignation letter in full below:
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28 September, 2018 Dear Parents and Stakeholders
I have been simply overwhelmed by the volume of support the St John’s community has kindly afforded me in the past week since my announcement on Friday 21″ September. I deeply appreciate every boy, parent, former student and member of the community who has taken of their time to offer me their understanding, acceptance and compassion.
I also fully appreciate that my announcement has caused grievous and deep concern to a section of our community. I have to really accept that I had no idea of the force of anger and resentment such a declaration would make, but I would like it known that I am a man who has the utmost respect for people who hold strong views along the lines of custom, tradition, religion and other values. I am deeply apologetic for any distress I have caused and the manner in which I acted on Friday. I ask for forgiveness and understanding for the magnitude of this insult.
In the past few days, I have unfortunately come under vitriolic attack from various quarters. I have been in receipt of death threats as well as threats of physical danger to myself and my pets. It has also been made clear to me that certain stakeholders are not prepared under any circumstances to have me remain in my position at St John’s, to the extent that they have launched legal challenges, made ultimatums and vowed under any and all circumstances to see me dismissed, even by means of intimidation and the manufacture of fabricated evidence against me to see me face a wrath of spurious allegations. For my own sense of integrity, I will not submit myself to a sham trial or investigation to these individuals, the outcome of which would have already been determined regardless of actual circumstance.
It is for this reason, and with a very heart, that I have come to realise that my current position as Deputy Headmaster is now untenable and I hereby tender my resignation with immediate effect.
I have loved serving this institution loyally, proudly and professionally for the past 15 years. The students we produce are men of real character who go on to make a significant contribution to the world they live in. I wish every student the very best of success and I know with solemn conviction that every single student of the College knows the value of my integrity; an integrity I now seek to preserve at all costs. As I said before, I am an intensely private person and I ask now for the peace to move on in my life in a manner which is free from persecution and which is fair for all citizens.
I have fortunately prepared my examination classes to the best of my ability and I will remain available to them all in a personal capacity should they wish to engage me for further revision and tuition. The College will make provisions to offer them further support in my absence. I am likewise available to assist all students in whatever help of an academic nature I am able to give, also on a privately arranged basis.
I would like to thank the ladies and gentlemen of my 6th form for being excellent role models of leadership and decorum at all times. I wish them and all other public candidates the very best of luck for their upcoming examinations. I have valued working with my 6th formers and appreciate the respect they have afforded me. I would like to thank the Headboy, Cameron Butler, for his loyalty and support as well as Simba Wazara and Ezra van Rooyen, one of the finest tennis captains I have worked with in my time at the College. On a further personal note, I am grateful for the support of Kenton Blythe-Wood whose mutual appreciation of cinema has led to many meaningful and engaging conversations over the past couple of years.
I am particularly appreciative of the wonderful boys, in my beloved Drama Society. I have worked hard to foster a love in them of the performing arts and they have rewarded me infinitely with the enjoyment of working with a cast of actors every year, most certainly my favourite endeavour at the College. I hope they will continue to enjoy the thrill of acting and performing.
I am of course indebted to my many friends and colleagues on the faculty and administrative staff of the College. Rarely will an institution find such a professional, sincere and devoted group of people all working for the interests of the students in our charge. I am particularly thankful to two of the most principled and honourable men I have ever had the pleasure to know; Cav Corrado Trinci and Mr Andrew Sakala. Their belief in what is good and important for our students is the reason St John’s is the very fine institution it has become. I simply ask that these two men be given the opportunity now to continue to discharge their duties in a manner which continues to serve the very best interests of our students.
St John’s is the finest school in the country and long may it prosper.
- Full Text: St John’s College Explains Why Deputy Head Was Allowed To Inform Students That He Was Gay At Special Assembly
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