By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com June 23 2012 1:10 PM ET
Public schools can be a drag for LGBT kids, but one enterprising teen is doing something about it. Asher, a 14-year-old transgender teen, has taken matters into his own hands with an Indieagogo campaign to send himself to Arthur Morgan School, a trans-friendly Quaker boarding school in North Carolina.
"Being 14 isn't easy, not for anyone," says Asher. "Puberty, middle school, and all that crazy stuff. For trans kids like me, it's even more complicated. At 2, I found this out about myself. This has never been easy at my other schools, but luckily, my mom has been very supportive and has learned a lot about trans issues over the years. I am so grateful for this. If I hadn't been raised around a bunch of queers, or if my mom was trans-phobic, I honestly don't know where I would be. I have felt very affirmed and accepted by a lot of adults in my life, and this has helped me so much"
But Asher says his current public school hasn't been helpful. "I don't feel safe coming out as trans when most of the teachers and staff are not so prepared to support me. This makes it much harder for me to make good, trusting friendships with kids at school, so I wind up feeling pretty isolated, and this causes more stress and loneliness and frustration in my life. Its been a pretty depressing year so far."
So Asher visited Arthur Morgan, a small boarding school in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the kids and the staff were friendly and accepting. "Although the school has never had an out trans student before," he writes, "they're very excited about welcoming me to the community. The staff is doing workshops to learn how to be good allies for me, and any other trans kids they get in the future."
The school got wind of Asher's campaign and offered him an even bigger scholarship ($10,000) towards his $25,000 annual tuition. Now LGBT folks from around the Internet are kicking in to help one trans kid live the dream. So far he's raised $6,400 of his $13,000 goal at Indiagogo.com.
"These are important years, for me and the whole world," Asher says, sounding wise beyond his 14 years. "Going to middle school in a healthy environment surrounded by people who accept me for who I am will not only give me a better life next year, but will also influence who I become in the world."
For more on Asher's quest, visit Indiagogo.com.