NM High School Maintains Graduation Gown Policy; Transgender Student Protests

A transgender student is contesting the decision of a Catholic high school in Albuquerque, N.M., to maintain its traditional graduation ceremony by having all female students wear white robes, and all male students wear black robes.

The school has determined that transgender student Damian Garcia, who was born a female but identifies with the male gender, must still wear a white robe at the upcoming graduation ceremony because his birth certificate identifies him as female.

The superintendent of St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque told local news station KRQE News 13 that the school's policy is to consult a student's birth certificate when issues regarding graduation wardrobe come up.

Garcia has contended, however, that he would rather not walk in the graduation than wear a robe designated for females when he identifies as a male.

"I would rather not walk than to embarrass myself by wearing a female robe," Garcia, who had his name legally changed from Brandi to Damian last year, told local KPLCTV 7.

The Garcia family said to the local news station that they are not expecting the Catholic high school to change its policy regarding graduation caps and gowns, but in the future it would like the school to adopt one color for both males and females so issues like this one could be avoided.

Another transgender student in Red Lion, Pa., is contesting his high school's policy regarding the announcement of names at graduation. Issak Wolfe, who was born Sierra Stambaugh, recently spoke to the local Red Lion Area School District board meeting, asking for his male name to be read when he receives his diploma.

Although it has been determined that Wolfe will be able to wear a men's black graduation gown, the school district board has yet to make a decision on whether it will read Wolfe's birth-given name or his acquired male name, which he is reportedly working to have legally recognized.