Middle School Declares Trans Teen Can't Attend as Female
Rachel Pepe, a 13-year-old in Middletown, N.J. who transitioned over the summer from being identified as Brian, has been told by an official at her school district that her gender transition will not be recognized and no accommodations will be made for her when the school year begins again.
Pepe's mother, Angela Peters, claims that the Middletown School District in New Jersey told her that they could not identify Pepe as Rachel since on her birth certificate it says Brian. The school district also reportedly declined an offer for the teen to use the nurse's bathroom as a separate accommodation.
After the news was made public, the superintendent of Pepe's school district announced plans to revisit the issue. It's illegal in New Jersey to discriminate against someone based on their gender identity.
Middletown Schools Superintendent William O. George said he was not aware of the controversy. While he is limited in what he can disclose about the situation because of state and federal confidentiality laws and regulations, George addressed the case in general terms.
"We as a district want to do everything we can as a district," George said. "Every child is different and their education and social and emotional well being is my priority. We will work with them to find the appropriate placement."
Peters hopes the end result will be her daughter attending a private school in the district, with the school district paying part of the tuition.
Pepe had been experiencing "stress-related seizures, depression, and panic attacks" as a result of being identified as Brian. Peters explained that should Pepe be asked to return to identifying as a male, "the depression will start again."
[Image via Asbury Park Press]