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ACLU threatens legal action against Pa. school on behalf of transgender student

Tuesday, April 30, 2013
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RED LION. Pa. — A spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday that it will take legal action in the case of the transgender student who was barred from participating in a prom election based on his gender identity, if the school fails to meet its demands by the end of the week.

Issak Wolfe

Molly Tack-Hooper, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said that although that Issak Wolfe, a senior at Red Lion Area High School, had been allowed to attend Saturday’s prom with his girlfriend, school officials still have not apologized for the actions of principal Mark Shue following the prom court election controversy.

Shue had placed Issak on the prom court ballot for prom “queen,” using his birth name of Sierra Stambaugh. Issak identifies as transgender, and had sought to run as a candidate for prom “king.”

The ACLU sent a demand letter last week to the school district seeking an apology for the prom flap, and an agreement that Issak will be able 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.

Issak said he understands the diploma, which is a legal document, would still have his birth name on it, since he hasn’t yet legally changed it. But, he said, the public recognition of his gender matters.

“It’s embarrassing at this point in my life to have my name read as the wrong name,” said Issak. “I don’t want to be forced to wear yellow because I’m not a girl. My family and I both want this so they can remember it the right way.”

Red Lion Superintendent Scott Deisley has repeatedly declined to comment on the situation, telling reporters that he wished to “respect the privacy” of those parties involved.

The ACLU said it will take legal action against the school if it fails to respond by Friday, May 3.

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