A transgender boy at the Saint Pius school in Albuquerque is being forced to wear a female gown on graduation. At Saint Pius, graduating senior boys wear black gowns and girls wear white.
Although Damian Garcia (born Brandi Garcia) has legally changed his name and his family and teachers all refer to him as Damian, Saint Pius school made the decision based solely by the gender on Damian’s birth certificate.
“I just want to have a happy graduation and just walk in my black robe nice and proud and just have a memory to look back on with my family and friends,” Damian said in an interview posted on the KRQE News 13 website. He continued, “I would rather not walk than to embarrass myself by wearing a female robe.”
“I look at him and I call him my son, that’s how he wishes to be acknowledged, as a male,” Damian’s father, Luis Garcia, said.
The superintendent of the school told KRGE that Damian has a choice: he can either wear the female-delegated white gown on graduation or not walk at all.
“It’s just something very difficult to go through to see your child suffering, you never want to see your child suffering” Garcia said. He continued to say that the school’s decision is “heartbreaking.”
“I just want to graduate and walk with my friends and classmates and I don’t even have a cap and gown,” said Damian.
Damian is not the first transgender student to be denied access to gender appropriate uniforms.
A transgender senior at Red Lion Area School District in Pennsylvania, Issak Wolfe, who wasn’t allowed to run for prom king, also faced discrimination in regards to the gender specific color of his graduation uniform.
On behalf of Wolfe, the ACLU stepped in and successfully convinced the school to allow Wolfe to wear a black gown.
On April 25, the ACLU wrote a letter requesting that transgender students have the same freedoms and equal access as all other students at the Pennsylvania school, attended by Wolfe.
Specifically, they asked for Wolfe to be allowed to wear a black cap and gown and to be called to stage by his preferred name. They have also called on the school to broaden their policy in regards to transgender students rights and to allow future prom court nominees to run under their specified gender identity.
Wolfe wasn’t only concerned with his own issues, he wanted to “protect the future of transgender students in the school” and wants the school to undergo sensitivity training, reported Tack-Hooper.
The Red Lion school has granted Wolfe the right wear the male delegated graduation uniform, but has denied Wolfe and the ACLU all other requests.