Pa. School Silent on Trans Teen's Bid for Homecoming King

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com September 20 2013 6:56 PM ET

Administrators of a Pennsylvania high school intend to take no action on a transgender senior's request to be listed under the male roster for the school's homecoming court, says the 17-year-old in an op-ed for XO Jane today. 

Kasey Caron is a senior at Richland High School in Johnstown, Pa., where he's a well-liked student who also serves as an assistant drum major in the school's marching band. Caron also happens to be a female-to-male transgender person, who was assigned female at birth, but now identifies, presents, and is recognized by his family, friends, and the state of Pennsylvania as male. Caron has also received nearly unanimous support from his fellow classmates, who want to see him listed on the homecoming ballot for king. 

But that wasn't good enough for the school administrators, who told Caron and his family in a closed-door meeting that they won't be taking any action on Caron's request to run for homecoming court as the appropriate gender — the one that coincides with his presentation, his identity, and his driver's license. 

The school board has yet to formally issue a decision in writing, Caron's mother, Kathy (herself an out lesbian), tells The Advocate. But administrators essentially told the family last week that according to the school's legal counsel, they have to recognize Caron's gender by what's on his birth certificate. The school has yet to cite the specific section of state law that they claim makes such a requirement. 

Kathy Caron tells The Advocate that the family will consider contacting the American Civil Liberties Union, but for now, her son will be focusing on finishing his high school career. According to his mom, Caron wants to go to school to study counseling, hoping to specialize in LGBT issues and eventually become a therapist to help other LGBT people living in small towns. 

In his XO Jane column, Caron admits he wasn't thinking much about homecoming at the start of school, more preoccupied with the other major life events in a high-school senior's life: SATs, college applications, staying strong with his girlfriend who was away at college. But then Caron's guidance counselor pulled him into her office and asked which ballot he'd like to be listed on for homecoming court: male or female? 

"I was really honored to be given the choice to run on the male ballot," Caron writes at XOJane. "It meant a lot to me. I left the office with a smile, feeling proud. I told all of my friends as soon as I could. The rest of the week, nothing could bring me down. I was being recognized as myself, and it felt so good."

Although Caron was originally listed on the male side of the ballot, administrators switched him to the female side of the ticket the day the student body was set to vote on homecoming court.

Even after Caron spoke eloquently at a school board meeting earlier this month — where Caron gave the board a copy of his Pennsylvania driver's license  that lists him as male and was flanked by nearly 100 supporters — the school has apparently decided to do precisely nothing. 

"[Kasey is] dealing well with the situation and does not consider it a loss because his story got out," his mother tells The Advocate. "And [he] brought the attention to the LGBT youth in this area and all over — that this is an issue of today, and governments all over, large and small, will have to deal with it sooner or later. He had just hoped that Richland would have been progressive enough to have had a change of heart."