PLEASE SHARE. Chester County Schools needs to know that they can't treat their students like garbage and brush it under the rug. This is picture of me now next to my Class of 2016 senior picture. Well, this is the closest thing I have to a senior picture. My senior year was a living hell and a few
Chester County High School
faculty members were the main source. I am transgender. I was born biologically female but live my life as a MAN and have transitioned to male. I came out at the tail end of my Junior year and started going by Danny (Short for Daniel) my senior year. The chaos first started with me having to quit choir when my choir director refused to let me wear anything other than a dress to concerts. Wearing a dress made me so uncomfortable that the last concert i attended that I wore a dress in, I had a panic attack. I felt embarrased, miserable, and ashamed. After begging him several times to let me wear the slacks, shirt, and bowtie, and asking the counselor to speak to him, he still refused and I had to quit choir. This broke me, because I saw Mr. Canada as a father figure. I had been in his choir for 6 years, and I will always have a permanent scar on my heart because of how I was treated. Because I was not able to be in choir my Senior year, I was not able to audition for the All-Northwest Tennessee Honor Choir, which i had made my freshman and sophomore year. I lost potential scholarships because of this. I started using the nurse's restroom so I would not have to use the Women's. A female teacher I had never even been in a class with learned about this and stopped me in the hall, refused to let me pass to go the nurse's room, and told me that the women's restroom was "right there" when i tried to explain, she continued to block my access to the hallway. I ended up crying in the bathroom for 20 minutes because I was so uncomfortable. Mr. Belew in the office refused to call me Danny over the intercom, even when a counselor asked him to because it wasn't my "legal name" when several other people were called by their nicknames or middle names all the time. Coach Todd stopped me after lunch one day after he saw me wearing my Dairy Queen nametag that said Danny. He pulled me aside and told me that "God made me a girl, i'm not a boy, i'll never be a boy, my birth certificate says female, and that i need to stop". He made me miss class time to harrass me. I do not care what your personal beliefs are. That is not normal. Chester County, that is utterly unprofessional and I am still disgusted that thats somehow seen as acceptable. I tried to start a Gay-Straight Alliance club as CCHS, which is basically a support group for LGBT students and allies. Legally, they had to allow it to exist, but they had to treat all clubs equally. So their response was to bar clubs from meeting during CCR time like they used to and bar clubs from putting up any posters. I made a poster talking about the suicide and bullying statistics for LGBT students for the Anti-Bullying poster concert and wrote "Sponsored by the GSA" in the bottom left corner and Ricky Catlett gave me ISS. And now we come to the yearbook. Oh boy. Yes, I did take a tux picture, and I was not in the yearbook, but thats because I was forced to take myself out. Principal Ricky Catlett informed me that it is "Tennessee state law" to have your full legal name in the yearbook (Which is a complete and utter LIE) He refused to put Daniel Victor Dibnah (which is now my legal name but was not at the time) So, i had to sign a piece of paper in front of Mrs. Goff, Mr. Cupples, and Mrs. Cleek saying to take me out of the yearbook. I was not going to be remembered as my old name. That was not me. If i had not gotten my name legally changed right before graduation, they would have called my old name out because apparently its also "state law" to call your legal name out at graduation (another obvious LIE) All this after being kicked out in the middle of my senior year by my foster parents. latest graduation wears chic style
I would not have made it through my senior year if it wasn't for a few amazing, supportive and wonderful faculty members and teachers. You know who you are.
The only students that the administators at Chester County High School seem to respect are the white, straight, cis, religious, well off ones. If you're not those things, they will pretend to care about you then stab you in the back. And then when you go back to visit a teacher they will shake your hand as if they did nothing wrong.
I DO NOT CARE what Ricky Catlett's personal beliefs are, but as a PUBLIC SCHOOL principal, he is REQUIRED to keep those beliefs seperate from how he treats his students. You can't just claim something is school policy just because it aligns with your beliefs. That is not only AGAINST THE LAW, but it tears the seperation of church and state, makes the school a toxic environment for LGBT youth (which is certainly not good for learning or test scores) and makes student morale PLUMMET. I am so tired of this school system thinking they can just treat LGBT students however they want and face no consequences for their actions.
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." - Title IX
Ricky Catlett and Troy Kilzer, by denying students from being in their yearbooks in a federally and state funded PUBLIC school, you DISCRIMINATED against us on the basis of our sex, which is PROHIBITED under Title IX.
Tradition is NOT the same thing as policy.
Chester County, you need a rude awakening. You need to start treating your students fairly and with respect and dignity. The yearbook is for the senior class, not Ricky Catlett, not Troy Kilzer, and not for any other faculty member. If you don't start treating LGBT students equally, you will eventually down the road be forced to. You can't just say that your school system doesn't discriminate when you're obviously and openly discriminating. This is 2018, not 1950. Grow up and do better.
Ricky Catlett, you need to do better. Troy Kilzer, you need to do better.