Issak Wolfe, a transgender student at Red Lion School
District, graduates today. Graduation day is one of life’s big milestones and
cause for celebration. Unfortunately, Issak’s big day will be marred by the
fact that the school district has refused to respect his gender identity and
will read Issak’s female birth name at graduation instead of the male name he
has gone by consistently for two years.
The school district is not required to read his legal name. It could have chosen to be kind,
understanding, and accommodating to a teenager who has endured much unkindness
already. Instead, they have refused this simple accommodation that would cost
them nothing, but would mean the world to Issak and his family.
In a June 5 letter to the ACLU, the school district stated
that it was in the “best interests” of the school district and the entire
graduating class to announce Issak by his legal, female name. They did not explain exactly how
disrespecting Issak benefits the school or his classmates.
surprising, the school’s refusal to read his male name was hard for Issak to
take – particularly since the announcement was followed by a graduation
rehearsal at which the administration stressed to the graduating class how
important it was to graduates and their families for the school to read
everyone’s “correct names.”
School officials should be in the business of supporting
students. They should model acceptance and compassion for others. Instead, Red Lion School District has
displayed pettiness and arbitrariness in its treatment of Issak.
Although the mean-spirited acts of school administrators
haven’t always made life easy, Issak has worked tirelessly to make
his school a safer space for his classmates and future students, urging respect
for all students and an end to discrimination on the basis of gender identity
and expression. Although Issak leaves
the Red Lion Area School District today, he leaves behind an important legacy
of tolerance. Hopefully, one day the district
will be ready to embrace Issak’s message.
Labels: Issak Wolfe. LGBT rights, students's rights