2013-05-02 / Local & State

ACLU Seeks Apology Over Prom King Dispute

RED LION, Pa. (AP) – A central Pennsylvania school district should apologize for its treatment of a transgender teen running for prom king and make assurances that future candidates will be allowed to run for prom king or queen according to their gender identity, the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday.

The organization said it wrote to Red Lion Area School District to demand the apology for a decision by high school principal Mark Shue to put Issak Wolfe on the ballot under prom queen with his birth name of Sierra Stambaugh.

Wolfe says he plans to undergo a physical transition.

The ACLU said Shue also threatened to prevent Wolfe from going to the prom on Saturday with his girlfriend over statements she posted online in support of him, but later Friday the organization said the district has said they can attend together.

Messages left Friday for Shue and the district superintendent, Scott Deisley, were not returned.

Wolfe’s father, William Stambaugh, said he has concerns about the couple's safety at the dance.

“I’m probably going to wind up going along, just to make sure that things don’t get out of hand,” Stambaugh said Friday.

Wolfe said the ballot issue was humiliating, and he considered the question of his girlfriend’s prom attendance a “degrading and hurtful” attempt to intimidate him, according to a statement released by the ACLU.

The ACLU claimed Shue pressured Wolfe to give what the group called a scripted press statement to reporters, and said the principal has not announced whether Wolfe will be called as Wolfe or Stambaugh at graduation.

Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU's Pennsylvania chapter, said Wolfe has been accepted by family, faculty and other students and that the alleged efforts to silence Wolfe and his girlfriend were unconstitutional.

Wolfe wants to wear the boys’ black cap and gown at graduation, not the yellow attire girls wear.

His father said he’s waiting to see what the district does, but for now he’s not ready to “call for anybody’s head.”

“They’re really not asking for that much,” Stambaugh said.

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