Feeling right at home

Juliet Walker, left, Dan Walker, center, and Fynn Walker, right, pose for a photo during the Women's March in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Photo courtesy of Dawn Walker

Tenth grade student Finley (Fynn) Walker feels accepted in the William S. Hart Union High School District, where school officials quickly accommodated him and his name change at the beginning of the school year.

The 16-year-old Academy of the Canyons (AOC) student first came out as transgender to his family and friends in spring of last year before he was accepted into the AOC program as a sophomore.

Before the school year started, AOC had listed his birth name in its system instead of his chosen name of Fynn.  Finley said he and his family asked school officials to change his name to Fynn and the system was updated within a week.

“We went over to the office and they did it within a week and we were so surprised,” he said.  “I expected it to take a long time.”

Now when Finley logs onto the school’s website or when teachers call roll, Fynn is the name that appears on computer screens and is spoken in front of his peers.  School officials also let Finley use the boy’s restroom and boy’s locker room.

“We always strive to create a warm and welcoming environment on all of our campuses,” said Dave Caldwell, public information officer of the Hart District.

The quick action of the district and school staff is also consistent with the School Success and Opportunity Act, also known as Assembly Bill 1266, which took effect in 2014.

Finley said the environment at AOC is a welcoming one and that there has only been one slipup with his name at the beginning of the year when a class roster was printed at the last minute.

“The district has been really great,” Finley said.  “At AOC everyone is so supportive.”

AB 1266 states that students cannot be discriminated against based on gender identity or expression and that all students have the right “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on their self-perception.

The law applies to all transgender students in kindergarten to 12th grade.

The school district’s actions are also consistent with Hart’s Student and Parent Rights, Regulations and Responsibilities handbook which states that “transgender students shall be permitted to participate in gender-segregated school programs and activities and to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.”

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