Transgender name issues going through courts

DPHS students only allowed to use preferred name with parental support

Transgender name issues going through courts

Alaster Bowles, Reporter

On Thurs., Oct. 20, transgender students at De Pere High School were pulled out of their classes and told that they were not allowed to use their chosen names unless it was changed in Infinite Campus.  

This rule did not just pop out of nowhere. In the state of Wisconsin there are three court cases going on where parents are suing schools because they found out that their child had been going by a different name. 

Although this policy isn’t new, staff at De Pere High School are being much more strict about it now that there are potential legal issues.  In the past teachers were more receptive to students’ wishes if they were different from what was in the school database. 

“I think the difficulty we run into now is that there’s some concern around how do you balance the parents’ rights and the students’ rights and wishes,” says Jerry Nicholson, De Pere director of pupil services. 

Nicholson says there are some things in the law that aren’t completely clear. Because of that, many schools have decided that it is the parent’s right to decide what their kid is called to avoid potential legal issues.

Parents have the right to know what name their kid is being called at school and the school can not withhold information about the parents’ child, according to Mrs. Jadin-Rice, DPHS assistant principal. 

As a result, this means that students with unsupportive parents will be forced to use their deadname in classes. (A “deadname” is a trans person’s previous name.)

Regardless of what the reason behind this procedure is, trans students at DPHS are being affected by it already.

Among these students is Jay Salm, a 14-year-old freshman who says that this is affecting him because it is “Disrupting my learning. It makes me very uncomfortable when teachers switch from using my preferred name to my not preferred name.”

Freshman Melvin Goodwin also agrees that the procedure is harming students. 

“(Other trans kids) might feel as if they have to hide (their trans identity), as if it’s a bad thing but it’s not. It’s good to know who you are,” Goodwin said. 

The teachers and school staff have little to no control over this issue, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t help students and support them in other ways. School counselors can set up meetings with trans kids and their parents to try and open up communication and possibly get their name changed. 

“I always value the conversation between the student and family,” counselor Luke Felchlin says. Resources like The Trevor Project, which focuses on helping the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth, are available to trans people who might need them.

A name change in Infinite Campus has to be approved by parents, with the help of the school counselors.