Transgender teen opts out of grad ceremony

Posted at: 05/22/2013 7:06 PM
Updated at: 05/22/2013 7:12 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

St. Pius High School celebrated its 54th graduation ceremony today,one graduate didn’t show up to receive a diploma.

The city’s only Catholic high school sent 192 young adults into the world. Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan was also on hand for Wednesday morning’s ceremony at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

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.

Damian Garcia was born a female but identifies as a male.The transgender student wanted to wear the black cap and gown worn by male graduates. Female graduates wear a white cap and gown.

St. Pius didn’t allow it because his birth certificate says female.

A petition and protest didn’t sway the school on its decision and, as expected, Garcia opted not to walk.

"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.

Some grads even showed solidarity with their wardrobe.

“I made my statement by wearing my polka dots under my white gown in hopes they would see you know, white isn't exactly the best color for us to be wearing so we should all be in black," said graduate Samantha Sandoval.

Controversy and all, these teens are still proud to be St. Pius Sartans.

“[I feel] relieved and happy. I'm pretty proud and I hope I made everyone proud," said graduate Brandy Begay.

"Glad to be graduating with the class of 2013 St. Pius High School," said Wright.

Damian’s father, Luis Garcia, said he and Damian opted not to go to the ceremony so as to “not cause a scene.”

Damian spent the day with his friends instead.