Tag: High School

No prom for this girl because her boyfriend is transgender

 photo enhanced-11636-1397599337-13_zpscebc2993.jpgAnais Celini, 18, attends Martin Luther High School in Maspeth, NY.  She is a senior and was planning to go to the prom with her boyfriend, Nathaniel Baez.  Not so fast says the private Christian high school.  Nathaniel is transgender.  The school says that this is “unconventional,”  so Nathaniel attending would not be “beneficial” to the proceedings.

Celini says the school views them as a same-sex couple.

Rather than engage the school in a knock-down/drag-out, the couple has decided to create their own prom.

I’m not going to fight them, that wasn’t the point. It’s a big night for everybody and I don’t want to cause a scene.


Out of Arkansas

I’ve shared before that I was teaching at a university in Arkansas when I transitioned.  The University of Central Arkansas is located in Conway, about 35 miles north of Little Rock on I-40.  

I can’t say it was a good place to transition…but looking back, I wonder if there was anyplace that would have been good to transition in 1992.

Anyway, we left there in 2000 and moved to New Jersey.That meant I went from a tenured faculty member at UCA to teaching as an adjunct in mathematics at Montclair State University and as an adjunct in Computer Information Systems at Bloomfield College.  Fortunately I was offered a tenure-track position at Bloomfield at the end of the first year, which I accepted…even though I had no background in computer programming.

But I taught myself the languages I needed to be able to teach and gained tenure in CIS in 2006.  I moved back to teaching mathematics three years ago.

Anyway…enough about me.  There are three news stories out of Arkansas I would like to share.

Jeydon only wants his photo in the yearbook Update: It’s in!

 photo jeydon2_zps51796b67.jpgLa Feria, TX high school senior Jeydon Loredo just wants to have his picture in his high school yearbook.  But La Feria Independent School District Superintendent Rey Villareal has a big problem with that.  You see, Jeydon was born and raised to be female.  But, like transgender people everywhere, that didn’t take.

Villareal has told Jeydon’s mother that Jeydon can have his picture in the yearbook only if he wears stereotypically feminine attire, like a blouse or a drape.  The superintendent does not take responsibility for this decision, however.  Having only been in the job for four months, he says he is deferring to Jeydon’s principal.  Villareal says the student handbook is clear:  the suitability of each photo which appears in the yearbook is subject to the judgement of the principal.  Jeydon’s family says that in fact Villareal made the decision, not the principal.

Jeydon has everything right in his statement:

I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve grown up with the kids here.  I’ve seen those in my community go through troubles, and denying my tuxedo photo would be a way for the district to forget me and everything I’ve brought to this community.  The yearbook is for the students, not the faculty or the administration.  It is a way for us to remember each other.

Teen Breakthroughs Around Gender and Sexuality

What follows is a pair of articles recently posted by an NYC public school social worker over at Fire on the Mountain, articles I hope will be of interest of interest to educators and parents and perhaps more broadly.

Teen Breakthrough, Part 1: “I’m Not Racist Against Gays”


In my workaday world in the NYC public school system, this year’s big news was the growing acceptance of and sympathy for gay guys. And because male homosexuality has been, in my experience, so deeply stigmatized among youth, I think this is a tremendous breakthrough. I still don’t hear many guys in high school saying flat out, “I am gay,” but there’s definitely less attempt to deny or repudiate or hide attributes that might brand a young man as gay.

Little things like young men casually mentioning, “My uncle is gay,” or an African-American senior who is into fashion design, tends toward the flaming in his manner and shows no romantic interest in girls being elected a class officer. Or a young man saying to a female classmate who called him “fa–ot”in an argument: “Well, I don’t appreciate that because you must not think too much of gay people, and my brother is gay.” In the past, the likely response would have been to hurl back an insult, and the main concern would have been to assert his own straightness in front of the peer audience. But now, he takes the offensive and critiques heterosexism!

Another example that impressed me occurred in the context of a school art project for which students chose the theme of taboos. There was a fair amount of art about gay/lesbian relationships, but one of the most intriguing paintings showed what looked like a man in his twenties and a man in his sixties embracing, The young Latino artist, who as far as I know is straight, definitely wanted to provoke reactions and sought out feedback. It really blew me away that he was challenging two stigmas by portraying, in a compassionate way, both gay male sexuality, and the need of older people to express their sexuality (which is often is often a big yuck factor for teens!).

Mother, Mother Ocean: A Student’s Musings

I spend a fair amount of my time listening to Jimmy Buffett songs, so it won’t come as a surprise to those who know me that I can somehow tie my high school experience to a boat floating on the ocean.  Ever since I heard “Margaritaville” on the radio as a three-year-old, I have turned to one Buffett song or another for a flash of inspiration, a laugh, or a quote that’s vaguely related to the assignment at hand.  I’ve also spent these last four years trying my absolute hardest to avoid using cliché themes and phrasing in my English compositions; hopefully my streak won’t end in this last hoorah of an essay.

If, in terms of size and difficulty of navigation, elementary school is the pond in my backyard and middle school is the lake down the road, high school is the unpredictable ocean.  You cautiously venture in, hesitant to face the whitecaps in the distance but excited to speed toward that distant horizon.  Freshman year is a strange time to describe – by the time you hit the hallways for the first time, you’ve inevitably been scared to death by massively exaggerated stories of the big bad seniors and their vicious hazing parties.  You might hit a little wave here and there, but it’s mainly smooth sailing through basic classes like Health and Sports for Life.

Most students will tell you that sophomore year is basically like freshman year, just a tiny bit harder and a little less exciting once, considering how long 9th grade dragged on, you grasp just how much time four years really is.  I happened to hit my first storm in the summer before 10th grade, when my family moved to Clarksville and I, for some reason still unbeknownst to me, fell into the stereotype that every adolescent’s parents fear: the constant complainer.  It didn’t stop at school; rather, it covered everything from my neighborhood to having to go to baseball practice.  The calm after the storm eventually came, but sophomore year drifted by in an unmemorable fog.

I’d been dreading 11th grade since I watched my brother labor through six AP classes and a ridiculously long streak of sleepless school nights.  Luckily, my junior year didn’t turn into the “perfect storm” that drives so many students to total loss of motivation.  My four APs were challenging, but two of them were history courses with teachers I loved and subject matter that truly intrigued me.  I hit a wave here and a wave there, but none of them knocked me too far off course.  Like everyone else, I hit the college freak-out phase once the seniors starting getting accepted and rejected from the schools of their dreams.  Luckily, my hysteria was temporary and surprisingly beneficial: I started my essays and applications months before most of my classmates.

Now, quite suddenly, senior year is upon me.  I’ll knock on wood so as not to jinx National Day of Cruelty toward High School Seniors (also known as April 1, or the arrival of most college admissions decisions), but it appears that I’ve made it to calmer waters.  I’ve avoided the biggest icebergs by surprising myself on the SAT and saving my best writing for my college essays.

The ocean has been an obstacle to discovery and fortune since the dawn of history.  The explorers we’ll remember are those who crossed uncharted waters, eventually stumbling upon a helpful shortcut or a new continent.  I’ve discovered new truths and sources of happiness for myself, whether they be political involvement or the study of history, by steering through the treacherous ocean of high school and getting through with my ship intact.

What fun is an ocean without waves, anyhow?  You’ve got to get through the choppy surf to get to the open water.  Now, having caught the winds of inspiration and a bright academic future in my sails, I set a new course for the distant horizon and beyond.  After all, “some of it’s magic and some of it’s tragic,” but I’ve got a sea to cross.