Local high school grad overcomes discrimination, advocates for change
MILLSBORO, DE.- “It has to be yellow.”
Those are the words that turned Alex Delise’s graduation celebration into a fight for equality. The honor student and mother say they were victims of transphobic discrimination involving Indian River School District, after first being denied their requested cap and gown.
The district honored their request in the end but gave no reason why it was first denied. “They were putting a Band-Aid over something that was a bigger problem and were like ‘Ok just please be quiet now and stop complaining.’ Like they tried to pacify the problem but really I feel like them doing that made the problem much bigger,” said Alex.
At Sussex Central, boys are traditionally given a blue cap and gown. Girls, yellow.
Although Alex, a trans-man, walked on Tuesday in blue, the district denied his request when it came to his diploma and yearbook and put his legal name on them instead.
Through the process of fighting the district, Alex and his mom realized this was bigger than them. As a result, Melissa says she watched her son find his voice as well. “So that this could change for all students. So what was a very unhappy moment I think has turned into a really positive experience for us so most things happen for a reason,” said Melissa.
As what’s next for Alex, he’s off to college at the University of Delaware. He has dreams and becoming an art teacher and working with special needs youth.
For those questioning themselves, Alex says.. “I want to spread a voice to others and to everyone to say that you’re loved and that you’re valid.”
Meanwhile, Melissa wants other parents in similar situations to nurture their child and stand up for their rights. “I think moving forward, I want to step outside of that protective umbrella that I was under. I was making talk behind the scenes, calling the right people and reporting things and now I would like to see myself step out, said Melissa.
As for the incident , Alex’s mom says he did the right thing by standing his ground and that the school shouldn’t have put their family through such a hard time.
We’re also told that advocates like TRANSliance are pushing for the school district to change their policies for gender neutral graduation attire.