RIVERTON, Utah (ABC4) — The Jordan School District is issuing an apology after it printed several transgender students’ names incorrectly in their yearbook.
The Riverton High School seniors called it disrespectful and a permanent mistake that cannot be undone.
Elliott James is a trans senior at Riverton High School.
“It was disappointing,” said Elliott.
Elliott said on Wednesday he was getting ready for a practice graduation and he wanted to meet up with his friends prior to sign yearbooks.
When he met up with them he said they were crying because most of them including Elliott had their wrong names used in the yearbook.
Thursday was supposed to be a momentous day, a memorable one, for Elliott, but the senior said there’s a stain on the day that’ll be there forever.
“It definitely was damaging and it’s hard to see that they aren’t doing much to change it,” said Elliott.
Elliott said he and several of his trans friends were deadnamed.
“Being deadnamed is something that is really painful for a lot of people,” said Elliott.
Deadnamed in the trans community means somebody used their legal name instead of their preferred name.
Elliott says he told the teacher in charge of the yearbook the name he’d like to be printed at the start of the school year.
“Most trans people hate being called our deadnames and so seeing that on a permanent school record that we carry with us for the rest of our lives, probably the most important school yearbook we will ever have, was really really upsetting,” said Elliott.
Elliott’s mom, Carinne, said she won’t forget the phone call she got from her son.
“By having the school use the wrong name, it makes them feel like they aren’t respected and aren’t a part of the community,” said Carinne.
Jordan School District has apologized and so has the principal of Riverton High School.
The Riverton High School principal called the James family, said she was sorry and told them they’ll be better in the future.
The Jordan School District sent the following statement to ABC4:
“Students using preferred names in yearbooks is always allowed in Jordan School District with parent permission. The situation that occurred at Riverton High School where a preferred name was not used in the yearbook was an honest mistake and was not intentional. We sincerely apologize for this mistake. Riverton High School is working with the yearbook staff to make sure this does not happen in the future.”
“It’s a huge part of their identity,” said Carinne.
The James family said they feel like the apology doesn’t mean anything unless they put checks and balances in place and make sure it doesn’t happen to trans students again.
“I don’t feel like it should be that difficult to just call someone by the name they would like to be called,” said Carinne.
Elliott said he wishes he had a chance to see his name in the yearbook before it was published.
ABC4 had a phone call with the school district Thursday and its spokesperson said they will do whatever they have to make this situation right.