Transgender Student Told He Cannot Run for Prom King

Sierra Stambaugh came to an important realization a few years ago: She identified as a male:

Sierra cut her hair short, and her mom bought her men’s pants. She changed her name to Issak Wolfe and has used it ever since, with full parental support.

As you might expect, that change hasn’t been easy for him, but it could’ve been far worse. For the most part, his classmates and teachers have been pretty respectful.

Now, Issak is a senior at Red Lion Area Senior High School (Pennsylvania), and he was in the running to become Prom King… but things went haywire last week:

With his friends around him last Wednesday in the cafeteria ready to vote, they realized his name was on the ballot, but on the wrong side.

Issak was listed as Sierra Wolfe, prom queen candidate.

Administrators weren’t in the office, so Issak said he spoke with a guidance counselor and other staff. That’s when he was told principal Mark Shue had decided to switch Issak to Sierra and list him on the prom queen side.

“[Principal Mark Shue] said the king was always a male and the queen was always a female. And he feels that’s the way it should be,” [father] William Stambaugh said.

The Superintendent didn’t help, either:

Red Lion Superintendent Scott Deisley, in a written statement on behalf of Shue and the district, declined to comment Tuesday morning, stating it would be best for the safety and well-being of Red Lion students to “respect our privacy in this matter.”

The message would have been more honest if it just said, “Stop talking about this. It makes us look bad.”

The votes have already been cast, so it doesn’t look like Issak will achieve his goal of becoming Prom King, but he’d still like an apology from the administration for how they handled this.

His sister actually posted a much more heartfelt version of this story online:

Issak (second from left)

I have a brother Issak, who is transgender, transitioning from female to male. I am so proud at how far he’s come and the progress he’s made. His friends and family all love and support him, yet on a daily basis he faces the discrimination that comes with being transgender, especially in our high school. I remember Issak almost didn’t want to go to Prom his senior year because of the shit he might have to put up with. When I heard that he was going to Prom and running for Prom King I was so proud and happy for him. He had a lot of people of the senior class who would have voted for him, and he might have even won, except for one thing: the principal would not allow it.

There’s a lot of Facebook love (like?) for Issak, too.

But Issak is doing a very courageous thing by allowing this story to go public. If he can’t convince his administration to do the right thing, then let’s shine some light on their bigotry. Force the principal and the superintendent to defend their ignorance or promise never to make the same mistake again.

At the very least, if you’d like to send them emails (politely, respectfully) explaining why they made the wrong decision, just click on those links. I’m sure they would love to hear from you…

(Thanks to Nick for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X