Saved by the Bell

Indiana High School Reverses Choice to Deadname Student at Graduation

After generating public outrage, an Indiana high school has reversed its decision to deadname a transgender student during graduation. The last-minute decision was prompted by a viral Facebook post, in which student Bradley Curry detailed his ordeal.

“I have been out since I was 12 years old and have been going by Bradley since then,” Curry’s post read. “All of my teachers and classmates call [me] Bradley. I am now a senior and will be graduating in about 2 weeks. It seems as though, sadly, I will be unable to attend graduation simply because of the principal’s personal feelings against referring to trans people by their names.”

The decision came from Boonville High School principal Michael Whitten, despite the fact that there is no policy that legal names must be read at graduation—as Curry pointed out in his post. As a result, Curry felt he had no option but to skip the graduation to avoid being humiliated in front of his friends and teachers.

In the weeks leading up to graduation, he and his father Jeremy Curry fought the decision, appealing to Todd Lambert, superintendent of Warrick County School Corporation. Ultimately, their persistence paid off, and Whitten was overruled the day before graduation.

“The school principal never gave us any information,” Jeremy Curry told The Advocate. “It wasn’t until I talked directly to the superintendent and told him of the reluctance of the principal to communicate that he called and notified us of the decision.”

Because the decision was so last-minute, Bradley’s deadname was still included in the graduation program. “I can only assume that they were printed well prior to any decision that was made,” explained Jeremy Curry. However, the announcer did call out Bradley’s correct name during the actual ceremony.

While it turned out alright in the end, the stress of the ordeal took its toll. “I feel like this battle was unnecessary and brought attention to us that we didn’t desire,” said Jeremy Curry.

But now the family is looking forward to focusing on what’s next. “We are proud [of him],” said Jeremy, “and Bradley is excited to move on with the next stage of life.” With the future ahead of him, Bradley plans to take some time off school before attending college. But first, he is pursuing a legal name change.

Jeremy Curry, meanwhile, looked back over all the family has been through in providing a supportive home for Bradley. “These past few years have been a learning experience for me, to say the least,” he said. “But my child is my child, and I will continue to love and support him and try to provide all the tools to be happy and successful.” 

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