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Red Lion: No policy change for transgender student - abc27 WHTM

Red Lion: No policy change for transgender student

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Issak Wolfe (Courtesy: York Dispatch) Issak Wolfe (Courtesy: York Dispatch)
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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

A central Pennsylvania school district will allow a transgender student to wear the cap and gown of his choice at graduation, but will read his female birth name unless it is legally changed before the ceremony.

In a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union dated May 3, Red Lion Area School District solicitor Benjamin Pratt said 18-year-old senior Issak Wolfe will be permitted to wear a black cap and gown for boys, as opposed to the yellow cap and gown mandated for girls.

However, Pratt said in the letter that the district will read the legal names of each student at the ceremony, so the name Sierra Stambaugh will be read unless the name is legally changed prior to graduation.

The ACLU said Monday that Wolfe plans to legally change his name, but the process cannot be completed in time for graduation June 7.

"There is absolutely no legitimate reason for the school to refuse to read Issak's male name at graduation," Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in a news release. "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."

The ACLU last month threatened legal action against the district if Wolfe and his girlfriend were barred from attending prom.

Wolfe also wanted an apology from the district because his name was not on the ballot for prom king, but rather his female birthname was on the ballot for prom queen.

Pratt said in the letter that the district has already apologized for the prom ballot, and since Wolfe and his family did not ask for a public apology before the ACLU became involved, it will not apologize again.

Wolfe additionally wanted a promise that the district would change its policy around transgender candidates for prom court, so that future students would be allowed to run for prom king or queen in accordance with their gender identity.

Pratt said the district believes its policies were written and followed in accordance with state and federal law, and it will continue to follow those policies as written.

Wolfe plans to ask the school board to weigh in on the graduation issue at their next meeting on May 16.

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