A High Court judge has refused to give council social services staff permission to change the forename of a boy called “Mia”.
Mr Justice Cobb heard that the boy, who is approaching his first birthday, was in council care.
The boy’s mother had registered his first name as “Mia”, the judge was told, and council staff had asked for permission to change the name because they thought he would be teased.
But Mr Justice Cobb has ruled against them, after considering arguments at a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in Leeds.
The judge outlined details of the case in a written ruling published online.
He said the boy could not be identified in media reports of the case – and he has not named the council involved.
Lawyers representing the council had argued that the boy was “likely to suffer significant emotional harm” as a result been given a name “that is predominantly considered to be a female name”.
The boy’s father was against the name Mia, but his mother wanted the “choice of name” to remain “undisturbed”.
“Tradition is not the same as it used to be, and Mia can be whoever or whatever he wants to be,” she told the judge.
“I want this name to remain his registered name.”
Mr Justice Cobb said he was not persuaded that the fears of council staff were justified.
“It is submitted on behalf of the local authority that such a name may attract ridicule or teasing and by consequence is capable of having a negative impact on his self-esteem as he grows up,” said the judge.
“The local authority wishes the court’s permission to change his forename.”
He added: “I … find myself unpersuaded that there are reasonable grounds for believing that (the boy) will suffer significant emotional harm in the school and community in which he will live simply by having the forename of Mia.”
The judge said a “vast range of forenames” were used in “today’s multi-cultural and diverse society”.
“Popular culture continues to influence parents’ baby name choices year by year,” he said.
“There are many forenames in common currency now which would not have been thought of five or 10 or so years ago.”
The judge went on: “I accept the mother’s argument, that ‘tradition is not the same as it used to be…’ “