Education | Gender Identity | New Jersey | News | News Clips | Transgender | Video

New Jersey School Refuses To Enroll Transgender Student as Female - VIDEO


Rachel Pepe, a transitioning transgender student from New Jersey, has been refused permission to return to school using her new gender identity, reports The Raw Story.

Pepe last year attended Thorne Middle School in Middletown, New Jersey, but when she tried to register for classes with her new gender identity, the school district said she would have to return using her birth name “Brian.”

Rachel’s mother Angela Peters said that sending her daughter back to school as “Brian” would cause a recurrence of the crippling depression that she suffered with last year.

“She would get off the bus and just cry. Then she would go to sleep for 17 or 20 hours and refuse to go back there. Although Pepe wouldn’t share her grief, a mother knows when something was wrong.”

An official also told Peters that the school lacked the ability to accommodate Rachel and rejected her attempts to propose possible solutions.

Although Middletown Schools Superintendent William O. George said he had no knowledge of the controversy, he added that “every child is different and their education and social and emotional well being is my priority. We will work with them to find the appropriate placement.”

Last year, California passed a bill requiring schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their chosen gender identity

Watch a report about Rachel Pepe, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. She will be a pioneer. Bless her. xo

    Posted by: David C. | Aug 18, 2014 10:00:08 AM

  2. I hope the mother has the number of the ACLU.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Aug 18, 2014 10:07:31 AM

  3. Don't see what this has to do with gay people. If Towleroad is going to run stories about violations of straight people's rights, there are a lot more compelling stories than one about a hetero kid who is getting a free education but has to use a previous name. How about a story about the straight people in Ferguson who are being arrested or killed? Or about the Yezidi in Iraq who were burned to death by ISIS? Seems a bit more compelling than a transgender whine fest.

    Posted by: Thomas | Aug 18, 2014 10:26:10 AM

  4. Good luck to her.

    But why is this of any interest to LGB people?

    Posted by: MaryM | Aug 18, 2014 10:34:33 AM

  5. "But why is this of any interest to LGB people?"

    Can we only be concerned about LGB interests?

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Aug 18, 2014 10:36:50 AM

  6. My heart breaks for kids such as her, and the parents, too. Being the parent to two daughters was at times almost overwhelming, without this immense additional burden. Justice denied for one is justice denied for all, of course.

    Posted by: Ken | Aug 18, 2014 10:44:09 AM

  7. If she is being treated by a medical provider, and if she is following her provider's recommendation, I would assume Rachel would meet criteria for Special Student Populations and Federal Law would require that she be educated in the least restrictive environment. I do not think that being transgender is a disability but it is a medical diagnosis and the school cannot refuse her services solely because of her diagnosis.

    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that:
    "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. " U.S. Department of Education.

    Posted by: rayj | Aug 18, 2014 10:45:13 AM

  8. Though the email system at the middle school has been shut down I did send emails to the following addresses and they did not bounce:

    Dr. William George, Superintendent

    Mr. Tom Olausen, Principal

    Ms. Kristin Wessels Thorne's Contact for Bullying, Harassment and Intimidation

    Posted by: Rational | Aug 18, 2014 10:55:45 AM

  9. Rachel is incredibly strong, and it's frankly disgusting that the closeted grown-adult man who trolls this site under various screen names thinks he's in any position to denigrate this brave young woman and her wonderful family.

    ANDY TOWLE - do something about this site's commenting section. No - everyone is not entitled to an opinion. The only opinion anyone is entitled to IS AN INFORMED ONE - and the trolls on here are not here to offer anything of worth or any alternate angles for discussion - it's a daily cesspool of closeted men impotently and anonymously spewing the same racist, self-hatingly homophobic, misogynyistic, sexist transphobic JUNK day in and day out.

    brave teens facing a hateful and ignorant world, every day, from a place of honesty and truth - and this site's resident cowards hide in the darkness slinging mud.

    kudos to rachel's family - she's so lucky to have them in her corner. and shame on this school. what rachel is doing requires strength and resilience that few adults in society possess. what she has experiences thus far, and will likely experience in the next number of years - would likely crippled many grown men.

    time and time again the "what about the children?!?" brigade prove that they don't actually give a flying f**k about helping the children who actually need help.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Aug 18, 2014 11:25:37 AM

  10. This is relevant to LGB people because gender and sexual minority issues have been intertwined since the modern day LGBT movement was born (and long before that). A person's right to express freely who they love, especially when that person is of the same gender, is closely related to issues of gender identity and expression. Let's stand up for each other a little better, just because we can.

    This young woman has a right to be called whatever she pleases, and the school has no right to deny her or tell her how she should present herself. I hope this family has contacted the ACLU, because this is dead wrong. I run a support group for trans and gender non-conforming teens in NJ, and can tell you that there is support here. This school district is clearly one of the least enlightened and needs education.

    Posted by: Manda | Aug 18, 2014 11:44:34 AM

  11. The school might have violated NJ's anti-discriminatory law. If that's the case she and her parents have every right to bring legal challenges aginst them.

    Posted by: Dave | Aug 18, 2014 12:03:31 PM

  12. @Manda:

    "A person's right to express freely who they love, especially when that person is of the same gender, is closely related to issues of gender identity and expression."

    Nah, they aren't closely related. I stand with trans activist Janet Mock, who said on the Piers Morgan Show this past February:

    "Gay rights are not trans rights. It’s true.
    Gay rights are not transgender rights. It has nothing to do with gay rights."

    Of course, if a trans person is gay, then there's a gay interest to the story and it is entirely proper for Towleroad to cover it. But there is nothing in this story about this student being gay or being in a same-sex relationship. So this is Towleroad running a general interest story, and frankly, there are a lot more compelling stories about there than one about a dispute b/t one student and a middle school over name usage.

    Posted by: Thomas | Aug 18, 2014 12:22:08 PM

  13. Thomas, the people who run this site clearly disagree with you. And their opinion is the only one that matters.

    Posted by: Tyler | Aug 18, 2014 1:15:33 PM

  14. The only opinion anyone is entitled to here is Little Kiwi's, and he'll bully you until you agree or leave.

    Posted by: Knock | Aug 18, 2014 1:23:08 PM

  15. Boy.

    Posted by: Winona | Aug 18, 2014 1:24:45 PM

  16. Save the drag for Halloween.

    Posted by: Winona | Aug 18, 2014 1:28:05 PM

  17. @KNOCK - I won't ever apologize for being smarter than you, or for having the spine you'll never know.

    Stop being upset that a teenage girl is open about having transitioned, and stop being upset that she has the support of her family, while you've never known support or love from your own. You should be happy that she's getting the support and love that was never shown to you, not bitterly jealous.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Aug 18, 2014 1:31:02 PM

  18. Ugh, *I'm* the one reading this site, why do they insist on posting stories that don't describe my demographic and my demographic alone? This girl doesn't even LIVE in California!

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Aug 18, 2014 1:36:04 PM

  19. @ "Ugh, *I'm* the one reading this site, why do they insist on posting stories that don't describe my demographic and my demographic alone? This girl doesn't even LIVE in California!"

    That wasn't written by THEDRDONNA.


    Im much too narcissistic to comment under some eles' posting name. But I guess in some bizarre way even a narcissist will do something stupid like that.

    Posted by: Derrick from Phillly | Aug 18, 2014 1:44:22 PM

  20. Actually, Derrick, it was me, I was just facetiously illustrating the navel-gazing egotism of some of the other commenters for the selfish whining that it was. That's the problem, though, that the whiners here are so absurd that my ad-absurdum parody was mistaken for reality. Poe's Law in action.

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Aug 18, 2014 2:08:48 PM

  21. i appreciated your clever satire, Donna.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Aug 18, 2014 2:12:11 PM

  22. :) Thanks Kiwi

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Aug 18, 2014 3:01:13 PM

  23. "But why is this of any interest to LGB people?"

    It's funny, I didn't see you mention that on the post about an asteroid killing the dinosaurs. Or Chris Pratt's ice bucket challenge. Or John Oliver's coverage of Ferguson.

    Posted by: crispy | Aug 18, 2014 3:16:34 PM

  24. Sorry, THEDRDONNA,

    I've been Rickticized,
    I see, hear and smell Rick everywhere.

    I need a vacation from this blog. Child, I'm 'bout to lose my mind.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Aug 18, 2014 3:17:40 PM

  25. Oh, my! Thorne is right down the road from my house. Being a product of the Middletown school system I'm pretty certain they'll find a way to accommodate Rachel, it'll just take a little time.

    Posted by: JerzeeMike | Aug 18, 2014 3:59:33 PM

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