May 23, 2013

Heroic Trans Teen Takes School To Task For Bullying And Discrimination

Red Lion Area Senior High School in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, is discriminating against a graduating transgender student.

Issak Wolfe, an 18 year old senior at Red Lion Area Sr. High School, in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, is graduating from high school on June 7th, 2013. Issak made a simple request to his school. He asked that when the names are read at the graduation ceremony, that the person reading the names read “Issak Wolfe.” That’s the name that his classmates and teachers call him, and that’s the name he wanted said aloud on the public address system.

The school district takes issue with the fact that Issak is transgender, and identifies as male. Issak didn’t ask that the school change the legal name on his diploma, he asked that they acknowledge his graduation by reciting Issak Wolfe at the ceremony.

Issak was required to go to the local school board with his request. He presented a petition to the board with 2,000 signatures, and the meeting was packed with Issak’s supporters.

Erik Ortiz at the New York Daily News writes:
“Reading my male name at graduation wouldn’t hurt anyone, but they know that reading my female name only serves to hurt me more,” said Wolfe, who was born a female named Sierra Stambaugh but has identified as a male for more than two years. “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.”
Wolfe and his mother, April Billet-Barclay, pointed out that Wolfe is not asking to have his diploma altered with his male name — though he is in the process of legally changing it — but only to be announced by his chosen male name at graduation.
Whatever happens, Wolfe said, he’s at least proud that he took a stand.
“I stood up for other students in the future, and that’s what counts,” he said.
Public schools have a duty to create the optimum space for all students to feel safe. It’s patently unfair and discriminatory for the school to require a public hearing to publicly discuss a private matter. The public hearing serves no purpose but to humiliate Issak, and that’s outrageous.

Issak’s request is so benign, and there’s no rational reason to deny his request, other than to humiliate, discriminate, and embarrass him. As far as I’m concerned, that’s outrageous and completely unacceptable.

I’ve written an email to the Superintendent of the Red Lion Area School District, Dr. Scott A. Deisley, the Supervisor of Pupil Personnel, Mrs. Mary Smith, and Mark Shue the principal, in support of Issak. If you click on their names, you can email them too.

Issak is so brave and courageous for taking a public stand, and I applaud him for that. He stood up for himself, and other transgender students, across the country, and that’s nothing short of heroic.

Hang in there Issak - you're a hero to scores of people across the country - and I salute your bravery and courage. Bravo Issak!


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