Damian Garcia, a transgender boy at the St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque, NM chose not to walk the stage at his graduation rather than be misrepresented.
Damian was prohibited from wearing the black gown designated for male graduates. The superintendent of the school told KRGE that Damian has a choice: he can either wear the female-delegated white gown at graduation, or not walk at all.
Despite his legal name change and male identity which his family and friends all refer to him by, the school based their graduation uniform decision solely by the sex indicated on his birth certificate (which is female).
Damian revealed his decision to not walk on his Facebook page.
“I’m fully respecting this and myself by not walking and/or attending the ceremony at all,” Damian said on his Facebook page, as reported by the Albuquerque Journal.
The St. Piux X graduation took place at 10:00 am on Wednesday, May 22, at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.
Archbishop Michael Sheehan’s commencement speech reflected on the school’s decision regarding Damian. In his address he retold the story of the famous baseball player, Jackie Robinson, who broke barriers of racial discrimination as the first black baseball player to join Major League Baseball.
Ironically, though, he complimented the team’s manager for having the courage to challenge racial prejudices regardless of what other people thought.
“He and his manager had the courage to crack the color barrier and end racial discrimination,” he said. “They knew it was what God wanted them to do, and they knew a majority were opposed to it. They knew they would suffer,” Archbishop Sheehan said in his address, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Regardless of his analogy, he missed the connection between the positive example he portrayed about the baseball manager and the decision that was made by himself and the school.
He further stated, “following Christ means sometimes we have to take a stand for what is right. […] This goes beyond social groups or labels.”
To honor Damian’s earned high school diploma, the University of New Mexico’s LGBTQ Resource Center will hold a graduation ceremony for Damian on May 30, 7:00pm, in an outside space near Scholes Hall main campus.
With the hope that the school would change their mind in time for graduation, a rally was held on May 20 in support of Damian. Additionally an online petition with 23,000 signatures of support was presented to Archbishop Michael Sheehan, reported KOB.com.
Additionally, New Mexico’s Democratic State Senator Jacob Candelaria of District 26, a graduate of St. Puis X, was also in support of Damian.
“We should value the equality of all students… as an alum I hope that they side on being inclusive,” Sen. Candelaria said in an interview with 429Magazine. “This is just a special day in everyone’s life. This boy deserves to enjoy it like everyone else—he’s earned it.”
“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.”