Damian Garcia and his supporters hoped St. Pius X High School would let him walk outfitted in graduation robes fitting his male gender during graduation this past week . However, Damian refused to participate in the ceremonies last Wednesday because school administrators insisted that the transgender student wear white female robes.
KOB News out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, reported on Damian’s absence from graduation, noting comments from the boy’s father that Damian chose to hang out with friends rather than participate and cause a scene. The station also captured student reactions, which were supportive of transgender rights as Catholics:
“Amid the tremendous joy of their achievement, some students are a little disappointed in their alma mater.
“‘It’s a little ridiculous that they wouldn’t let him chose what he wanted to wear,’ said graduate Nolan Wain Wright.
“‘We pride ourselves in being a Catholic community and we don’t let him walk because of that, so it’s very sad,’ said graduate Erick Hernandez.”
Another voice support Damian was a famous alum of St. Pius X, the star of ABC’s Modern Family Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The Advocate notes Ferguson helped the cause of transgender students, and quotes from the actor’s Facebook profile:
“‘I am writing to ask you to do the right thing and let all your students graduate with dignity…Do not force someone to identify them self as someone they are not! It is as ridiculous as having a priest conduct mass in a nuns habit! Gender identification goes way beyond a check mark on a birth certificate…I know St. Pius X has changed a lot since I graduated in ’94. I['m] proud of the changes and strides you have made but this is not a time to hold to a rule book. Continue to grow and accept ALL of your students.’
“As a gay former high school student in a Catholic school, Ferguson can relate to 18-year-old Damien Garcia’s victimization…
“Out actor and Modern Family star Ferguson may have taken the issue to a much higher level, bringing attention to the frequent and persistent harassment and discrimination to which transgender youth are subjected.”
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the University of New Mexico’s LGBTQ Resource Center is holding a graduation for Garcia on May 30th. While this is a wonderful offer by the University, transgender students should not have to agitate in Catholic schools for equal treatment and respect; honoring their dignity should be assumed.
New Ways Ministry congratulates Damian on graduating and sends our blessing for his future endeavors.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry