Officials and students are at odds over which name to announce when a transgendered Pennsylvania high school student receives his diploma next month.
Issak Wolfe, an 18-year-old transgender student born a female, handed over a petition filled with 2,000 signatures during a school board meeting last week in York County, PA. Originally born Sierra Stambaugh, Wolfe argued that announcing his chosen male name shouldn’t raise any issues.
“Reading my male name at graduation wouldn’t hurt anyone, but they know that reading my female name only serves to hurt me more,” the Red Lion Area High School senior said. “Obviously, it’s more important to them to push around an 18-year-old than it is to make the school a safe space for its students.”
District officials have stated a diploma is a legal document, and, therefore, must bear the recipient’s legal.
“The position has always been to read the legal name,” said school board solicitor Ben Pratt. “We don’t do nicknames or alternate names.”
Despite not asking to have his name changed on the diploma, Wolfe said he’s still undergone several hardships from administrators at Red Lion Area High School.
“I’ve never gotten too much trouble from other students about who I am,” Wolfe told the school board last week. “But when Principal (Mark) Shue listed me under my old name on the prom queen ballot, it was the most humiliating and demeaning thing that has ever happened to me at school.”
While it’s unclear whether Wolfe - who’s being represented in the matter by the American Civil Liberties Union - will hear his male name called, he was able to score one minor victory – he can wear a boy’s black gown to the June 7 ceremony.
In the meantime, administrators have stated they will continue to reveal the state’s policies before making a decision on the matter.