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ACLU warns Pa. school district over transgender teen - abc27 WHTM

ACLU warns Pa. school district over transgender teen

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Courtesy: York Dispatch Courtesy: York Dispatch
RED LION, Pa. (WHTM) -

The American Civil Liberties Union has warned legal action against a central Pennsylvania school district if a transgender student is barred from attending prom with his girlfriend and the chance to run for prom king.

In a letter to the Red Lion School District, the ACLU said Red Lion Area Senior High School principal Mark Shue exposed himself and the district to significant legal liability by violating Issak Wolfe's First Amendment right to Free Speech.

Wolfe claims he was denied the chance to run for prom king when Shue placed his female birth name on the ballot for prom queen despite his repeated requests to be listed on the ballot for prom king.

Wolfe, an 18-year-old senior, further claims that Shue and other administrators threatened to bar him from attending prom with his girlfriend, a graduate of the school, after she posted statements and a petition online supporting him.

The prom is scheduled for Saturday.

The ACLU said that Wolfe has been going by Issak since his junior year of high school, and his teachers and friends call him by that name. However, he is registered at the school under his female birth name, Sierra Stambaugh.

Wolfe claims he approached school faculty several times in the weeks prior to prom and was assured he'd be listed as Issak on the ballot, according to the ACLU. He said he was later told that the principal "wasn't comfortable" listing him as a candidate for king and had the listing changed to the prom queen side of the ballot without warning.

When his girlfriend posted a message on Facebook and created an online petition supporting him, Wolfe claims the principal threatened to bar her from prom unless she changed the posts.

Wolfe is seeking an apology from Shue, assurance that he will be able to attend the prom with his girlfriend, and a promise that future students will be allowed to run for prom king or queen in accordance with their gender identity.

The ACLU is also demanding that Wolfe be allowed to attend graduation wearing a black cap and gown for boys, as opposed to the yellow cap and gown mandated for girls, and have his male name read at the ceremony.

The school district did not immediately comment on the letter.

The letter can be seen at: http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/redlionareaschooldistrict.htm

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