Gender Identity inclusion @ boarding schools

So I haven’t been here for over a year, hah. But I wanted to share something today that made me have a question about boarding schools and the gender diversity that is present in them.

!!!I am not making this post to specifically bash any schools. only my experience!!!

I’m a non binary individual at boarding school (lc) and I don’t use she/her pronouns, nor use my birthname. While LC does use my preferred name on my email, its not so on school portals/id cards/directories. which makes it a lowkey problem since (you guessed it) I don’t go by my legal name.

when I got to LC. I was given an id card? with my dead/birth name on it? (my preferred name was typed out in size 4 font at the bottom corner and I didn’t even see it until the dean pointed it out for me). so like the entire first week I went to about 5 diff people trying to change it. (my advisor, teachers, the book store, IT, dorm head)

this was like in the middle of the first week, I went to get mail (i ordered face masks) and was told my package wasn’t there. checked back like 3 days later even though the package arrived 4 days ago and they still said no. I tried explaining how I don’t use my legal name. And ended up getting told by the post office unless I used my dead name I couldn’t get any packages. Ended up walking to the deans and they had to pick it up for me. But it like started to burn this question in my mind : if LC, a pretty progressive school, still has problems with things like this than what is it like at other boarding schools ? and ones that are single gender ? Like I know for a fact I’m not going to be the only non binary person in boarding school so I would want to hear some other people’s experiences with the topic as well.

With all due respect…this isn’t a gender identity issue. It’s a legal name issue. If your preferred name was your legal name, there would be no issue.

Institutions operate in legal names, particularly when handling precious cargo (kids) and other personal property (mail, etc.). If you tried to pickup an item of mail at the post office that served LC, they would not give it to you either. School IDs can be similarly tricky. It’s an official credential…and they’ve even tried to bridge the gap between your legal and preferred name by including the latter in any form.

If you would like resolution on these sorts of issues, it would be best to discuss a legal name change with your parents. Otherwise, you’ll have to expect similar issues until you can make the change when you turn 18.

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@Mercurrii I am so sorry that you have been going through this.

No, not all BS have such policies. I can say this because my kid’s BS would not do this. How do I know this? Because there are kids at the school, some in the same dorm, who do not go by their legal name. Their preferred names are used in the online directory and class rosters. And I would assume that since the photos in the online directory are also used for student IDs that they would match.

I have also observed as a parent volunteer that in the parent directory, parents are allowed to use their preferred name. In those cases, it’s usually nicknames.

I cannot vouch for how the mail is treated. However, it sounds like they’re being particularly hidebound. I assume that you have retained your surname, so unless there is more than one person at your school with that surname, I don’t see why they’re giving you problems. Would they seriously give you this attitude if, say, you were binary and used a nickname like Muffy or Bunny?

While it is true that students are “precious cargo”, it is also possible for a school to operate under the belief that the school exists for the child, not the child for the school. I am happy that my child is, for the moment, at a school, not an institution.

Press on, @Mercurrii . It is not unreasonable to want to be recognized as who you are.

The OP is a student presenting a problem. As an adult and parent in the forums, I’m just trying to help get to the solution. And the information presented points to this being a legal vs. preferred name issue, rather than a case of discrimination (which is what is being suggested). If the latter is in fact the cause, it is not evident from the information presented thus far by the OP. Making reference to names like Muffy or Bunny and suggesting that my perspective is rooted in conservativism (which I am not) or gender identity discrimination (which I do not), is really not helpful.

I’ve not made the suggestion of this being a legal name issue because I seek to discount real gender identity discrimination. I suggest it because I personally go by a version of my middle name and have always encountered similar issues.

The emotional suggestions do not change the fact that schools are in fact legal institutions, and are often required to act in ways that are easily viewed on the outside as being inflexible or uncaring. Again, mail is property, and the school has an obligation (and assumes liability) to handle the mail within the law (if an official post office) or similar regulations (which may be dictated by the school’s insurer). Again, school IDs are official credentials. They are accepted as official ID for all sorts of things, including standardized tests. Using my personal example, every ID that I have, including passport, DL, corporate ID, hospital IDs, etc. have my legal name in bold letters and/or large font. Not one has my preferred name or even highlights the legal middle name that it is derived from.

The one instance that may be different in the OP’s case and that I’d suggest starting with is the directory. Student and parent directories are not official documents, as far as I know. The OP may get traction there, working with adults mentioned in the original post.

Lastly, while schools are institutions, they are also incredibly liberal beacons for change in our society. That is particularly true of modern boarding schools.

@Mercurrii Good for you for working to make the changes that you believe best represent you and those with the same challenges. I doubt that you are at a dead end, so good luck. My only advice is to not suspect the ill intent of people or your school too quickly. Work with them to understand the boundaries that they are currently working within and hopefully you can forge a path toward reasonable change.

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And I will reiterate: not all BSs are the same.

The Prep Admissions section of this forum is dominated by certain schools that happen to be rather conformist.

There are schools infrequently mentioned here that are much more nonconformist.

I can not respond to the particularities of non binary students, but I can share my experience as a mother of a child who goes by a nickname, and also as a female adult who has always used my middle name, which also happens to be most often associated with males. Was that clear enough?? It’s the story of my life trying to explain my name and correct everyone who gets it wrong. :slight_smile:

My first thought is to change your name legally. I am 40ish years old, and if there is one thing I could have done years ago, it would have been to legally change my name to eliminate some of the confusion. Because everything legally is under my first name, there have been countless mixups throughout my life. Once I was able to clear up the first name / middle name issue, most assumed I was a male, and I’d then often be sorted into male groups. As a shy kid, it was awful constantly trying to explain that I had been grouped with males instead of females. I feel your frustration!

Figure out now what is going to make things easier on you in the long run. If the school cannot seem to separate your preferred name from your legal name, I would look into changing your name legally. Having said that, my daughter goes by a nickname that is not at all similar to her legal name and the only issue she has had is that they used her legal name on her dorm room, which tripped up one of the faculty on duty her entire first semester. Her school ID and the directory both reflect her preferred nickname, and she’s had no issues at the mail room (though I suspect all of her mail has been addressed to her nickname).

In terms of BSs being progressive, my daughter feels that her BS is not nearly progressive enough. She often tells me that the school puts on an air of being accepting and open, (ie, teachers are required to specify their preferred pronouns in their email signatures) but she doesn’t feel they are doing enough to make non binary students comfortable. I would guess a lot of schools still have a lot of work to do in this area.

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It would be interesting to find out how mail is treated for Asian students who use an Americanized name instead of their birth name. That seems like a direct comparison. Schools have dealt with that situation for years, so it is reasonable to expect the school to do the same for you as it does for them. If it doesn’t, then you have some evidence that you are being treated differently.


I’m only an applicant, not a student, but in my interview, Exeter said that they would do their best to accommodate me and use my chosen name on things. I don’t know if they’ll actually do so if I attend but they were really nice about it during the interview.

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that’s swag (for a lack of a better term), I hope they do own up to their promises ^^ and you being able to benefit from that lol

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