By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com October 30 2013 7:09 PM ET
Although Kasey Caron wasn't allowed to run for homecoming king, he will be allowed to start a gay-straight alliance and wear the same graduation cap and gown as his male classmates, declared the Richland County School Board at its monthly meeting Monday night.
Caron, a 17-year-old senior at Richland High School in Johnstown, Pa., happens to be transgender, and originally petitioned the school board to allow him to run for homecoming king in September. While the school board rejected Caron's petition to be listed as male on the homecoming court ballot in September, the board responded this week to Caron's other requests: to establish a gay-straight alliance at Richland and to wear the blue cap and gown like his male classmates when he graduates this spring.
Once Caron secured a faculty adviser for the GSA, the board approved his request to establish the first GSA in the region, reports the Keystone Student Voice, the blog for the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition. Caron hopes to hold the club's first meeting Friday.
"Even after all of the negatives I went through, a positive came out of it," Caron told the Voice. "With the formation of a GSA, we will have students working together to prevent my situation from ever happening again."
Caron's initial bid for homecoming king arose after a school counselor encouraged him to put his name in the running. With broad support from classmates, teachers, and his family, Caron hoped to make history and an important statement about inclusivity in central Pennsylvania. But the school board denied his request, saying that legal counsel had advised the board that Caron must be listed on the female side of the ballot because his birth certificate identifies him as such, despite providing board members with a valid Pennsylvania driver's license that showed his legal gender as male.
In several Facebook conversations with The Advocate in September, Caron said he was disappointed with the board's decision but also determined to focus on his studies and completing his senior year. He's considering going to college to become a therapist but acknowledged that for the time being, he's focused on graduating and remaining close with his girlfriend, who graduated from Richland last year and is now away at college.