LAS VEGAS -- A transgender student is speaking out following a decision by school administrators to define the teen biologically. The young person, who self-identifies as a boy, doesn't want to graduate as a girl.
The young person came out as transgender to family and friends last year. Although Francis Dalog Junior is still biologically a girl, Francis self-identifies as a boy and presents that way. But administrators at Shadow Ridge High School recognize Francis the she, not the he. School officials initially insisted Francis conform accordingly on graduation day.
For most of Francis Dalog Junior's life, the now 18-year-old has struggled to find what fits. Francis wore dresses as a little girl, then boy's jeans in the fifth grade, and eventually androgynous outfits during the early teen years. Now as a senior at Shadow Ridge High School, Francis has stopped trying on an identity. The tuxedo instead of a prom dress now is not a fashion statement; it's a reflection of who Francis is.
"It took a while for me to eventually tell people, to get comfortable with the feeling."
Francis came out to family and friends last year as transgender meaning that although Francis is biologically a girl, Francis self-identifies as a boy. And while some transgender students, according to a national survey, liken school halls to a social minefield, Francis explains the experience has been largely ambush free -- that is -- until a school administrator recently insisted Francis walk with the girls at graduation.
"I explained to her that I'm transgender and she's like doesn't matter, whatever's on the paper that's whatever side you're going to go on."
The Clark County School District has no specific policies related to transgender students instead it relies on a more individualized approach explains school board president Linda Young.
"Each case is a little different; each student is a little different. I think it has to be discussed in light of what's going to be comfortable for all involved, because it's not just that student, but the other students as well," said Dr. Linda Young, CCSD school board president.
"There should be policies," said Jane Heenan with Gender Justice Nevada.
Advocates like Heenan insist clear-cut guidelines help to ensure consistent outcomes.
"It should not depend on an individual school, an individual person, an individual superintendent. These are policies that should be in place not just for the sake of students or of staff, but because it's the law," Heenan said.
Indeed, when the I-Team raised Francis' concern at the district level, it reversed the administrator's decision, based largely, it said on legal advice. Noting quote "the district wants all students to feel welcome in their education environment and therefore will make reasonable accommodations."
"I want to leave as who I am. I want to graduate high school as who I really am," Dalog said.
Tuesday morning, Francis did get the thumbs up from school administrators at Shadow Ridge to walk with the boys.
Francis hopes that by sharing this story it will start the conversation about whether the district is meeting the needs of transgender students.
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