Transgender Carroll High School student disappointed after name placed on wrong homecoming list

Openly a transgender young woman, Carroll High School senior, Grace Grabner's male birth name appeared on the homecoming king ballot.

Posted: Sep 16, 2020 5:36 PM
Updated: Sep 19, 2020 9:27 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- Grace Grabner planned to start her senior year at Carroll High School with a bang. 

But her hopes came to halt last week when her birth name appeared on a ballot for homecoming king. 

"I've been out for six years and I thought they should've known that," said Grabner. 

Openly a transgender young woman, she was hurt seeing her male birth name used among 2,500 plus students. 

"I think we need to work on that as a school and as a community, we need to work on making a safer place for queer youth and LGBT people," said Grabner. 

Olivia Haggard, Grabner's childhood friend and 2019 Carroll High alumna, started a petition to raise awareness for Grace's longtime struggle with transphobia. 

"Not only was it to raise awareness about what happened with Grace but it was to open the discussion and show Carroll that it's not okay," said Haggard. 

Haggard says the use of Grace's male birth name was irresponsible, and also dangerous. 

"Who knows if they're depressed or considering suicide. This could've been the last straw for Grace," said Haggard. 

But Northwest Allen County School’s Director of Communications Lizette Downey says the incident was an honest mistake. 

"That was our responsibility and our fault. We feel terrible about it. And we have expressed our concern for that mistake," said Downey. 

Downey encourages any student who feels ostracized to reach out to a faculty member for help. 

But Downey says she understands this mistake can't be taken back. 

"If anybody, any student, for any reason feels uncomfortable in their school environment, they need to come and report that and talk to an adult," said Downey.

Downey says the Carroll High School student body selects five male and five female students as homecoming king and queen finalists. 

Grabner says her mother pleaded with the administration to remove her name from the list or generate a new one. 

Grabner checked the list Wednesday morning as recognized it was no longer available to view. 

She says anyone else experiencing something like this shouldn't give up, but instead, ensure their voice is heard. 

Grabner says, "Get people to notice how wrong this behavior is. Because it's important for people to know how insensitive it is for anybody older or younger than me to experience."

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