Each year, high schools across the country pick a homecoming king and homecoming queen based on popular vote. At Mona Shores High School in Muskegon, Michigan, one candidate who had received an overwhelming number of votes for homecoming king was a senior named Oakleigh Reed.
But, unfortunately for Oakleigh Reed, known as Oak, all the votes he received for homecoming king were invalidated because he’s enrolled at Mona Shores as a female. Reed is a transgender boy — he’s gone through years of counseling and he plans on getting a sex change operation when he turns 18.
Apparently, that’s not good enough for Mona Shores High School administrators. According to the Assistant Superintendent Todd Geerlings, the ballot gave two choices — students were supposed to vote for a boy for homecoming king and a girl for homecoming queen. And, in the eyes of Reed’s high school, he’s a girl.
The school has accepted Reed’s identity in some ways. Teachers refer to Reed using male pronouns, the school allows him to wear a male tux for band, and the school is letting him wear the male robe and cap for graduation. But these steps are not enough.
Reed should be allowed to compete for homecoming king, since he identifies as a man. Denying him of that opportunity is discriminatory and insulting. Why should Reed’s legal status as a female mean that he can’t be the school’s next homecoming king?
It’s especially troubling considering how difficult the transition process is for young people. It’s particularly hard for someone to legally transition before turning 18. Essentially, Mona Shores is rendering it impossible for transgender students to be on the homecoming court based on their gender.
Luckily for Reed, he isn’t just getting support from his classmates. The ACLU of Michigan wants to take up his cause. If Reed accepts the ACLU’s support, Jay Kaplan, a staff attorney for ACLU’s LGBT Legal Project, plans on contacting the school.
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