Red Lion Area School District Chooses the Low Road

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.

Although not surprising, the school's refusal to use 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 for Issak, 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.

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Email the superintendent and let him know how bigoted and narrow-minded HE is permitting his principal to be.


I would have arranged to pull the plug the plug to the mike just before his name was called and the use a bullhorn to announce his name. Shame on the school.


Shame on this school district! Karen Ann Morse


I have to say, I think based on what little actual information is here, this article is both biased, and kind of unnecessary. I appreciate the fight transgendered people have in merely existing in society. However, I also believe that if you truly feel it's the correct life choice for you, that some thought and planning is necessary.

To start off with, most of the TG people I've known have fallen in a similar age category. It may not be true in this case, (always on a person to person basis), but this is the age group most known for radical shifts in thought and preference. There's a reason we look at teenagers and early 20s being times of rashness and making questionable decisions. I think that if you take on a decision of the magnitude of choosing to be labeled as the opposite from your physical gender, you should think, long and hard about it, consider the consequences and benefits, and make an informed decision. Now, understand I'm not saying TG is a choice. I'm saying you make a conscious decision at some point to IDENTIFY as your preferred gender.

Red tape from the government, in the form of name changes, (and if you can get them, changes to your gender identity legally - I'm not sure of status of that or how you go about that personally), seem to be a good thing to me at that time in a person's life. When supported by family, friends, etc, these would give you time to consider that choice. Legally changing your name is something that would give most people pause. If they haven't seriously THOUGHT about what they were doing, that would be enough to. I'm not saying ALL transgender people do this, just that a relatively large margin would be susceptible, and it seems like a fair idea.

And finally, on the look issue, as pointed out to me by a friend, I don't expect some massive change. Either if you choose to be identified a certain way, dress and act the part, or alternatively, don't immediately get mad if someone chooses to identify you with what you look like. That's kinda how we all work. Well, given they're not being a jerk.

Back to the article, as above, I think a simple name change would have resolved this with no need for media attention. Whether that was an option wasn't covered here, which I think is a misnomer. While I don't necessarily 100% agree with Red Lion's stand, being a former alumni, I also don't think it's on them to remember each student's preferred name, other than the legal name they are given at birth, which is on all the rest of their official transcripts/documents/etc. I think while it wasn't the NICEST thing, it was still a reasonable thing for the school to do.

Additionally, according to the article, Issak has the support of family. Which is something a lot of transgendered don't have. I think honestly this should have been resolved before it ever saw print, shortly after, or maybe even some time after the decision to identify as male to others was decided.

Otherwise, well written and I appreciate the information exchanged herein, hoping for some good conversation and legitimate exchange of views, rather than the focused rage I fear will come of this. Thank you.


Well said, Raz.

This does seem like a biased article to me as well. I do not see this as an issue at all. If this person wants to be identified as a male and by a name other than his current legal name, then steps should have been taken to legally change the name. I am sure the school would have then read the new name. I would expect any school to read a person's legal name. If your name is Margaret, but you prefer to be called by a nickname, say Maggie, the school will read your name as Margaret because it is your legal name. If this person's family supports his decision to be identified as a boy, why haven't they taken the necessary steps to change his name? He will continue to face this issue unless the name is legally changed. I can't just wake up one day and decide to change my name and expect my employer, my school, and everyone else to start using the new name - not unless I officially change it. I really don't understand why this is an issue - just change the name!


I am a brussel sprout. Please refer to me by my brussel sprout name. Thank you.

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