A transgender high school student in Georgia was allegedly told that he could only be nominated for prom court if he ran for prom queen.
Dex Frier, a 17-year-old student at Johnson High School in Gainesville, told the Gainesville Times that earlier this month he learned he was nominated to be prom king.
Frier, who came out as transgender in his sophomore year, said running for prom king “wasn’t even a thing that had crossed my mind,” but, after learning of the nomination, “the moment I got home, I immediately started crying.”
He added: “I’ve never been shown so much support before.”
However, that all allegedly changed when Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield directed the school to remove Frier’s name from the prom king ballot, Buzzfeed News reports.
Frier was allegedly taken into the school’s office and given an ultimatum: run as prom queen or drop out of the race.
“Just because I’m not legally male I was going to get excluded from something that every guy has the opportunity to be in high school. It was really upsetting,” Frier told Buzzfeed. “That was the way it was in Hall County.”
However, Schofield rejected Frier’s version of events in a statement to the Times, telling the paper that no student had ever been removed from a prom ballot.
“Furthermore, I will not respond publicly, in any manner, to a situation that has the potential to single out any student in any way,” Schofield said. “We protect the privacy rights of our student body.
“On a broader note, I am not interested in being responsible for placing our school district in the middle of a national social, societal and legal issue, which would have the potential to substantially disrupt us from our core mission of providing an education for the boys and girls in our community,” he continued. “Prom should be a time for students to fellowship together and celebrate their local school.”
Students quickly rallied around Frier ahead of the prom, which took place on Saturday, March 23.
A Change.org petition calling for Frier to be allowed to run for prom king gained over 31,500 supporters prior to the event.
“Prior to Mr. Schofield’s interference, we, the Johnson High School student body, elected Dex Frier to represent us as a male member on Prom Court,” the petition read. “[This] was a free-response, purely democratic election system in which Dex was one of six males who received the most votes.
“Not only are we confused at this decision, but we are severely disappointed in the Hall County School Board,” it continued. “The two core beliefs of Hall County Schools are outlined on their webpage: ‘The Most Caring Place On Earth’ and ‘Character, Competency, and Rigor…For All.’ The decision made by Mr. Schofield fails to reflect either core value of Hall County Schools and is rather an exposition of a transphobic attitude that endangers many more than just Dex.”
It concluded: “I hope that you stand with us, that you stand with Dex, against the transphobic attitude of Hall County Schools.”
However, there was reportedly a positive conclusion for Frier.
In an update titled “Victory!”, the petition’s author Sam Corbett noted that Frier was named one of the “Royal Knight” seniors at the prom.
“The voting ballot was not divided on lines of ‘King’ or ‘Queen’ as it had been in past years, rather, it was a list in which two students, regardless of gender, could be voted Prom Royalty,” Corbett wrote. “This plan was one of compromise on both sides, and we would like to thank administration, both at the school and county level, for listening and welcoming our concerns — and most importantly, implementing a plan to address them.”