Oak Reed, a trans-identified student at Mona Shores High School in Michigan, first stepped into the public eye when he was voted prom king by his fellow students, only to have the crown taken away from him because he was officially enrolled as a female. His classmates and other allies responded by making a Facebook group in protest of the school administration’s decision. Controversies like these often play out badly but, surprisingly, the school responded by deciding to go gender-neutral for this year’s prom.
As Reed said in an ACLU press release, “All I wanted was a chance for all students to participate and be heard. Now, my classmates and I can just focus on having a great time at our school dance.”
While this clearly a great and progressive decision, I agree with Alex Blaze, the author of the Bilerico post, in his statement that “gender-neutrality isn’t really a solution for the problem here – Oak is a guy and identified as such – but it’s even better and gets rid of the subtle implication of assumed heterosexuality and that every high school student will identify as either a boy or a girl”.
By knocking down these assumptions one by one, we’re on our way to a much more inclusive environment for LGBT youth.