Thousands of petitions ask school to read favorite names of transgender students at graduation
COBB COUNTY, Georgia – Thousands of people from across the country rally around a Cobb County student who is transgender. The student wants to be called their preferred name upon graduation, but administrators at Alan C. Pope High School refuse.
More than 17,000 people signed the Change.org petition from Monday evening.
Soren Tucker, the trans student who is about to graduate from Pope High School, said she was shocked by the national response to the petition.
“I didn’t expect him to really get attention outside of our school or even out of the county,” he said. “In general, for trans people, the name is something very important because it is very personal and for a lot of people it is the first step towards some kind of affirmation of your identity.
The Cobb County School District said it was only following protocol.
“For any student, for all official school business, our schools use the legal names of our students,” said a district spokesperson who did not wish to be identified by name. “If a student or family changes a student’s legal name, we update that student’s official record, which affects, among other examples, their schedules, transcripts, and diplomas.”
Tucker said that while he was in the process of legally changing his name, he wasn’t asking them to change the name of his degree, just the name announced as he walked across the stage.
“We’re not asking for any kind of change on a legal document, it’s just the call list,” Tucker said. “It’s just a piece of paper with names on it, we don’t even get our diplomas at the ceremony.”
Even more confusing for Tucker, he repeatedly pointed out that the school used his favorite name. He said they used it in the yearbook, on posters of musicals he performed in, and on awards he received.
Lily Smith, a senior colleague at Pope High School and one of Tucker’s close friends, said school administrators may have ulterior motives.
“It’s just a little petty at this point where it doesn’t seem like a legal thing,” Smith said.
The graduation ceremony takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday evening.
While Smith is hoping school administrators honor Tucker’s wishes and use his preferred name during the ceremony, the massive response across the country to the petition speaks volumes.
“Even if the school does not announce his name correctly when he finishes his studies, we have proven that there are thousands and thousands of people who are behind him and who support him and who know that it is the right thing to do. “
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