Red Lion Area Senior High School student, Issak Oliver Wolfe, spoke at the Red Lion Area School District meeting on Thursday, asking that the school district give their transgender students equal treatment, and that his correct male name be read at graduation. The meeting was heavily attended by the Pennsylvania LGBTQ community, who wore green to symbolize their solidarity with Issak. Stickers which read, “His name is Issak,” were given out to those in attendance.
Advocates came from all over the state, some traveling from Philadelphia and Harrisburg to show their support. Transcentral PA, a transgender advocacy organization working in Central Pennsylvania, was represented at the meeting. Only tax-payers within the Red Lion school district were able to speak. Caden Krawchuk, a student at Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School and transgender youth advocate, told the Keystone Student Voice that community members spoke in support of Issak.
After being switched from the ballot for prom king to prom queen without his knowledge, Issak’s friends and family reached out to social media for support. When the school threatened Issak and his girlfriend, Taylor Thomas, with potential legal action and being barred from prom, Issak contacted the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition, who put him in touch with the Pennsylvania ACLU. The ACLU wrote a letter to the district, asking that Issak’s proper male name be read at graduation, that he be allowed to wear a black gown with the other male students, and that Red Lion Area School District adopt a transgender inclusive nondiscrimination policy. The district is allowing Issak to wear a black gown, but has not budged on reading his female name, or refusing to adopt a new nondiscrimination policy.
While the school district went through other business first to allow Issak and his supporters time to speak, witnesses reported that Red Lion Senior High School Principal, Mark Shue, was using his phone during Issak’s remarks.
Issak spoke to the Associated Press after the meeting, saying, “Reading my male name at graduation wouldn’t hurt anyone. Reading my female name would hurt me immensely. Is it more important to push around a teenager than it is to make the school a safe place for students?”
The results of the meeting were inconclusive. Caden reported that the school district said they would “talk about it,” in regards to reading Issak’s male name at graduation, but made no changes to their current decision.
Issak told the Keystone Student Voice, “…why I’m doing all of this is not just about me. When I started fighting I realized that I can make a difference for someone… I’m not the first and not the last trans* student.”