(AP) — All Damian Garcia wants to do is wear his black robe when he and his fellow high school classmates graduate next week.
Officials at St. Pius X Catholic School in Albuquerque say no. Because Garcia was born as a girl, the school insists he must wear a white robe along with the other girls.
“I just want to walk in my black robe, nice and proud and have that memory to look back on with my family and friends,” Damian Garcia told television station KRQE. “I would rather not walk than to embarrass myself by wearing a female robe.”
Garcia was born Brandi Garcia, but he identifies as a male and even had a legal name-change last year. Fellow students, teachers and faculty call him Damian and so does his family.
“I look at him and I call him my son. That’s how he wishes to be acknowledged is as a male,” his father, Luis Garcia, said.
St. Pius officials said it’s a matter of school policy. The school goes by what the student’s birth certificate states if there’s any question on what gender-color they wear at graduation.
Luis Garcia called the school’s decision heartbreaking.
“All you want in life is to see your kids happy and healthy. You never want to see them suffer or being ridiculed or be made fun of,” he said.
The Garcias don’t expect St. Pius to change its policy by next week, but they hope the school would consider having all students wear the same colored gowns to avoid the situation all together.