Transgender student switched from Prom ‘King’ ballot to Prom ‘Queen’ ballot

Issak Wolfe

Issak Wolfe

YORK, Pa. — Prom court voting is over, and with prom night just days away, one senior at Red Lion Area Senior High School in Red Lion, Pa., is angry over an arbitrary decision by the school’s principal that left him excluded from the prom court election.

Issak Oliver Wolfe, 18, who is openly transgender, said he had hoped to run for prom king, complete with making flyers and posters.

Issak Wolfe

He said he double-checked with the prom committee and the prom’s faculty adviser, who all assured him that he would be listed on the ballot for prom king.

However, last Wednesday as Wolfe and his friends gathered in the school’s cafeteria to vote, they found that not only was he not listed as a candidte for prom “king,” but his given female birth name was instead listed, and under the heading for prom “queen.”

“For a transgender person, it is degrading to have that, and I wasn’t even warned,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe said he spoke with a guidance counselor and other staff members, who informed him that Red Lion principal Mark Shue had decided to switch him to his legal birth name and list him as a candidate for queen instead.

Shue, in a meeting with Wolfe and his father William Stambaugh, justified his decision telling them it was based on tradition and he wasn’t comfortable putting Wolfe on the boys’ side of the ballot, reported the York Dispatch.

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“(Shue) said the king was always a male and the queen was always a female. And he feels that’s the way it should be,” Stambaugh said. “I wish he made a more progressive decision.”

Red Lion Superintendent Scott Deisley declined to respond to media inquiries, stating it would be best for the safety and well-being of Red Lion students to “respect our privacy in this matter.”

Wolfe said the damage is done, but that he still wants an apology for the embarrassment and for missing out on the possibility of getting on prom court on his own terms.

He said he has reached out to the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to help prevent his situation from happening to any other transgender students.

Wolfe said that, despite the prom incident, he’s had a generally positive experience being a transgender student in a rural high school. Although he hasn’t undergone gender reassignment surgery, he said plans on doing so soon.

A petition condemning Shue’s action also calls for him to announce Wolfe by his male name at graduation.

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