Turning the Other Cheek and Adjusting His Crown

Here’s your feel-good story of the week, which I first found in, of all places, the New York Post: “Transgender teen booted from Christian school is named homecoming king.” Written by Alexandra Klausner, this heartwarming item concerns a boy named Stiles Zuschlag, of Lebanon, Maine, who “took the crown Friday at Noble High School’s homecoming game — just one month after transferring to the public school.”

We turn now to the Huffington Post, where the story originally ran, by reporter Nina Golgowski: “A 17-year-old boy who says he was kicked out of his former Christian high school for being transgender is turning the other cheek — and adjusting his crown — after being named homecoming king at his new school.”

“Turning the other cheek – and adjusting his crown!” Brilliant! But I think it would have been better if Golgowski had called it “his formerly Christian high school,” since the school’s actions don’t strike me as being especially Christ-like.


“Stiles Zuschlag was bestowed the social accolade at Noble High School’s homecoming game in North Berwick, Maine, on Friday night, just one month after beginning his senior year at the public school. ‘This experience feels like a dream. It’s something I never thought could have happened to me,’ he told HuffPost by email on Sunday.”

Golgowski continues, “The Cinderella moment followed Zuschlag making national news last week after he was told that he was no longer welcome at Tri-City Christian Academy in Somersworth, New Hampshire — roughly seven miles southwest of Noble High. It followed him transitioning from female to male in 2015, he told the Seacoast Online at the time. Zuschlag, who said he had a 3.89 GPA and aspired to be valedictorian, said he went to speak with a school administrator in August about being identified as a male but was instead given an ultimatum. He had to confess his sins, stop taking testosterone treatments, and receive Christian counseling or find a new school.”

Zuschlag had the strength, courage, and — yes — faith to rise above that sort of Christianist bullying.

“Today, as painful of an experience as this has been, he sees his removal from the New Hampshire school as a blessing from God ― one that he hopes will raise awareness and inspire others,” Golgowski writes. “‘I’ve been degraded so much in the past, I’ve conformed to other people’s beliefs and standards just to make them happy and comfortable. I’ve put myself in situations really hurtful to my mental health just to keep peace,’ he told HuffPost. ‘God forced me out of that situation, that school, knowing that my mental health was far more important than my education. The only reason I stayed at the school for so long was for my education, for my GPA, and to just learn about God. But I was also dying there mentally and I suffered a lot,’ he said. ‘God took me away from that to help me be a better person, to breathe again, to be happy again. I’m so grateful He did that for me.’”

Speaking of transgender issues (and who isn’t?), Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (whose regard is not especially beau — I’ve seen better looking Munchkins) has determined that transgender people are no longer protected under the law. Here’s what BuzzFeed News’ out gay reporter Dominic Holden has to say on the subject: “US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a federal government policy that said transgender workers were protected from discrimination under a 1964 civil rights law, according to a memo on Wednesday sent to agency heads and US attorneys. Sessions’ directive, obtained by BuzzFeed News, says, ‘Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.’ It adds that the government will take this position in pending and future matters, which could have far-reaching implications across the federal government and may result in the Justice Department fighting against transgender workers in court.

“‘Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,’ Sessions writes. ‘This is a conclusion of law, not policy. As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress.’”

Not surprisingly, folks are calling bullshit. Holden continues, “Sharon McGowan, a former lawyer in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and now an attorney for the LGBT group Lambda Legal, countered that Sessions is ignoring a widespread trend in federal courts,” Holden continues. “‘It’s ironic for them to say this is law and not policy,’ McGowan told BuzzFeed News. ‘The memo is devoid of discussion of the way case law has been developing in this area for the last few years. It demonstrates that this memo is not actually a reflection of the law as it is — it’s a reflection of what the DOJ wishes the law were.’

“The memo reflects the Justice Department’s aggression toward LGBT rights under President Trump and Sessions, who reversed Obama-era guidance that protects transgender students after a few weeks in office. Last month, Sessions filed a brief at the Supreme Court in favor of a Christian baker who refused a wedding cake to a gay couple. And last week, the department argued in court that Title VII doesn’t protect a gay worker from discrimination, showing that Sessions will take his view on Title VII into private employment disputes. At issue in the latest policy is how broadly the government interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which does not address LGBT rights directly. Rather, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.”

That’s funny. I thought I was having sex with men all these years! I guess I wasn’t — not real sex, anyway. I was also under the mistaken belief the reason LGBTQ people have historically been discriminated against was because of sex. Sheesh! Jefferson Grossregard (Fat Face) Sessions is teaching me something new every day.

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