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Local graduate refuses to walk at commencement after school refuses to use their preferred name

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 7:34 PM EDT
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BRYAN, Ohio (WTVG) - A 16-year-old transgender high school graduate, named Jay Rober, is refusing to walk the stage for graduation this Sunday. He says it’s because the school won’t use his preferred name at graduation.

“It’s just really disrespectful,” said Rober. “I just want them to call me Jay when I walk across the stage in front of everyone so it’s not really embarrassing.”

The superintendent of Bryan City School District, Mark Rairigh, tells 13abc it’s not that easy.

“The consistent practice has always been to utilize the student’s legal name that matches with the legal name on the diploma,” said Rairigh.

Rairigh adds that this is the case regardless of a nickname, preferred name, or even a split-household situation because the ceremony involves a legal document, a diploma.

“If they decide to apply for employment or if they decide to attend higher education, we on the school side are bound to ensure that the legalities are followed with the legal document,” said Rairigh.

Leaders with the school said they have given Jay and his family the option to legally change his name before they can make accommodations but for them, money is an issue.

“Graduation is really soon though, I know that. It’s Sunday and they had practice yesterday so I don’t think I’ll really be able to (walk),” said Rober.

There is one thing Jay wants to do by telling this story, though.

“I know the struggles, I know how hard it is so, if I can help others then that’s great,” Rober said.

In the interview with 13abc, Superintendent Rairigh added that the school has been threatened with cyber-attacks directly linked to this situation. He said law enforcement is currently investigating the attacks.

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