BUTLER (KDKA) – School officials in Butler say they will change graduation ceremonies to be proactive and inclusive to transgender students.
Red and white, blue and white, gold and white, it is a common sight at high school graduation ceremonies in Western Pennsylvania to see the ladies in white robes and the guys in the school’s dominant color.
Now Butler Area High School has decided to buck that history for the ceremonies next June 6.
Superintendent Dr. William Pettigrew says, “it’s all going to be gold, everybody will have the same robe on.”
It’s a move for unification and inclusion. Principal Dr. John Wylie in a memo to the school board and administrators explaining the commencement ceremony changes for this year said, “It is easily foreseeable that we will have transgender students whose biological and psychological identities do not match, resulting in potential request to wear the color of the opposite gender we would normally assign.” An issue avoided if everyone is wearing the same color.
Dr. Pettigrew says there is not currently an issue in the school district but Butler is working to be proactive, “I think school districts now a days definitely need to be proactive and keep everybody’s feelings intact and know what’s going on as far as situations are concerned.”
Cullen Paulisick is heading off to his freshman year at Boston University in a few weeks and is glad to see his alma mater making the move, “I think it a good thing for Butler to make progress in that area. I think Butler has tried to avoid recognition for those issues and I think it’s a good time to start doing that.”
The robes are not the only change coming in the spring.
If the ceremonies are forced inside the gym every student will get four tickets for family instead of two, and for the first time the Butler High School graduates will be able to walk across stage when their name is called and receive their diploma cover.
Dr. Pettigrew says it’s the photo op moments families crave and has long been missing in the BAHS ceremony.
What won’t change is the schools long standing tradition of the students names being announced by their fellow students.
Butler is far from the only district where the boys and girls are wearing different colors at graduation. There’s no word whether any other districts are considering a similar change.