A trans teen in Hawaii is pushing the state’s department of education for reforms after accusing her former high school principal of blocking her from being part of her graduation ceremony according to her gender identity, Towleroad reported.
Jennea Purcell first revealed her allegations against Kahuku High School Principal Pauline Masaniai in a video released on Wednesday, saying Masaniai did not let her wear a white gown to wear for the ceremony last year, as is customary for female students. Instead, Purcell was told she would have to wear a red gown, which is required for male students.
Purcell, now 18 years old, says in the video that Masaniai, who like her is a Mormon, would “give me little talks here and there about me being supposed to be a boy.”
The ceremony, held at Brigham Young University in Hawaii, features not only a traditional graduation ceremony, but a choreographed dance by the senior class.
“I decided not to go, because I felt like I was supposed to be up there,” Purcell says. “And if I’m not gonna be up there, I don’t want to walk.”
She later told KITV-TV that she did graduate on time from the school.
“My intention in making this film and having the petition is just to make sure that no other child, even if they’re not transgender or part of the LGBT community, doesn’t have to go through something like this,” she said. “It’s not okay.”
The video is linked to a petition calling on the state board to implement a safety policy that covers trans students’ gender identity, and for Kahuku High to “act as a model school by publicly declaring that students may participate in graduation and other school activities consistent with their gender identity.”
A spokesperson for the Windward school district, which includes Kahuku High, said trans-inclusive policies are already a priority for the district. But Donalyn Dela Cruz also rejected Purcell’s allegations.
“The department’s been made aware of recently of these allegations,” Dela Cruz said. “We immediately took a look into them and we can confidently say these are false allegations.”
Watch KITV’s report, as aired on Thursday, below.
Purcell’s video, as posted online on Wednesday, can be seen here.