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School Refuses to Use Trans Teen's Name At Graduation

By Michelle Garcia

A transgender student in Pennsylvania is fighting his school district's decision to use his former name, given to him at birth, at his graduation ceremony.

Administrators at Red Lion Area School District told Issak Wolfe that his assumed name would not be read to the audience as he crosses the stage to receive his diploma. Instead his given female name would be read. Wolfe will be allowed to wear a black cap and gown, which is designated for the boys in his school, while girls must wear a yellow cap and gown.

Wolfe previously fought with administrators when he attempted to run for Prom King. Instead, his principal placed his female birth name in the column for prom queen, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I am really disappointed that the school district doesn't want to do anything to protect transgender students," Wolfe said in a statement. "I want to make sure that future transgender students are not humiliated and disrespected the way I was."

On April 25, the ACLU sent a letter on Wolfe's behalf, asking that he and all students be acknowledged with their gender identity while at school. The letter also asked for a broader nondiscrimination policy protecting transgender students in the district. Next Wolfe plans to go to the school board at its next meeting on May 16 to lobby for change.

"There is absolutely no legitimate reason for the school to refuse to read Issak's male name at graduation," said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "Their failure to do so shows the same lack of sensitivity they exhibited during Issak's attempt to run for prom king and knowingly mars what should be a happy occasion for Issak and his family."

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