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Transgender teen denied 'prom king' title is crowned in gender-free school ceremony

Elise Solé

A transgender student was named a “Royal Knight” when a Change.org petition with 31K signatures spawned a gender-free prom ballot.

Last week, a petition asked Hall County Schools district in Georgia to allow Dex Frier, a transgender senior student at Johnson High School to run as prom king, reported CBS News. Frier’s classmate Sam Corbitt authored the petition after Frier was nominated by his peers, alleging that superintendent Will Schofield would only allow him to run as prom queen.

“Not only are we confused at this decision, but we are severely disappointed in the Hall County School Board,” wrote Corbitt. “The two core beliefs of Hall County Schools are outlined on their webpage: ‘The Most Caring Place On Earth’ and ‘Character, Competency, and Rigor…For All.’ The decision made by Mr. Schofield fails to reflect either core value of Hall County Schools and is rather an exposition of a transphobic attitude that endangers many more than just Dex.”

Transgender high school student Dex Frier was named prom king in Georgia — after higher-ups said he could only run as queen. (Photo: Courtesy of Fiona Sandi)
Transgender high school student Dex Frier was named prom king in Georgia — after higher-ups said he could only run as queen. (Photo: Courtesy of Fiona Sandi)

Dex, 17, of Gainesville, has been vocally transgender since his sophomore year in high school. “First, I told my best friend who was so supportive,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Then slowly more people learned and now it’s a known thing at our school. Most teachers are accepting, but a few haven’t been nice about it.”

A few weeks ago, Corbitt and others suggested that Frier run as prom king. “I said, sure, of course!” Frier tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Then, other people nominated me and soon I was one out of six people running.”

But before the March 23rd masquerade prom at a local Gainesville venue, Frier was called for a meeting in the principal’s office. “He said due to ‘county parameters,’ I wasn’t allowed to run as prom king because I am not biologically male,” Frier tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I do not blame the principal — he’s the sweetest man — but I sobbed when I got back to class.”

Asked whether the district ordered Frider to retract his name, Schofield told Yahoo Lifestyle, “I will not respond publicly, in any manner, to a situation that has the potential to single out any student in any way. We protect the privacy rights of our student body. On a broader note, I am not interested in being responsible for placing our school district in the middle of a national social, societal and legal issue which would have the potential to substantially disrupt us from our core mission of providing an education for the boys and girls in our community. Prom should be a time for students to fellowship together and celebrate their local school.”

Frier’s friends “blew a fuse” over the rejection, writing and sharing the petition on Instagram. “Dex’s voice was being silent when it shouldn’t have been,” Corbett tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We voted for him as prom king.”

Last week, Frier and his grandfather met with the principal and compromised: The ballot would be gender-free — instead of “king” and “queen” titles, winners would be named “Royal Knights” for the school mascot. Both Dex and Corbitt say Johnson High School universally supported their activism.

On Saturday, Dex went to prom wearing a black tuxedo and a bright-red dress shirt. “The announcer called my name and it was insane,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It felt amazing to be recognized for who I am — not who I am perceived to be.”

Dex was one of two boys in the senior class to win the nomination. In line with the night’s masquerade theme, they were given feathered masks. “When I walked off stage, there were about 20 people crying hysterically for me,” Dex tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

On Monday, Corbett wrote on the petition that advocates were “…A symbol of the united support of human rights, but also a testament to the power of the individual. He asked people to donate to Dex’s GoFundMe page which hopes to fund his $7,500 top surgery.

“I’ve learned there is an enormous amount of people behind me no matter what,” Dex tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Making a difference before I leave for college feels fantastic.”

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