A heroic teacher has caused a firestorm in Zimbabwe after he came out as gay to his students at a top Harare private school.
Neal Hovelmeier is the deputy head of the sixth form at the prestigious St John’s College, which was previously attended by Robert Mugabe’s sons.
According to local media, Hovelmeier stood up in assembly and told the all-boys school that he is gay, reportedly to cheers from the students.
In a letter to parents on Friday, the teacher confirmed his coming out. He said that while he’d always been am “intensely private” individual, he’d become aware that some gay students had experienced “an environment of intolerance, intimidation and homophobia” at the school.
“I have felt increasingly troubled by the fact that we as an institution have never openly dealt with trying to curb homophobic behaviour and, equally, failed to provide a safe learning environment for students who may identity as being gay or bisexual to truly flourish and feel accepted,” Hovelmeier wrote.
He explained that in order to deal with the issue he felt he had to be “fully and open and transparent about it myself.”
Hovelmeier continued: “I also believe that it is integral to my own sense of integrity and professionalism that I deal with all students and stakeholders in an open and transparent manner.”
He added: “My only regret is that I did not make this disclosure earlier.”