American teen claims he has been banned from the private Christian school he has attended since nursery because of his gender identity.
Stiles Zuschlag, of Lebanon, Maine, told Seacoast Media Group he had hopes of becoming valedictorian at Tri-City Christian Academy in Somersworth, New Hampshire, where he had spent his whole school life.
However, the school administrator, Paul Edgar, responded negatively when Zuschlag and his mother met with him to inform the school that Zuschlag would be transitioning from female to male.
Zuschlag said that he was told that he could not return to the school campus, that he should confess his sins and cease taking the male hormone testosterone.
As a result, Zuschlag transferred to Noble High School in North Berwick, Maine, which was more accommodating- allowing him to be called by whichever pronoun he preferred and to use the gender bathroom in which he felt most comfortable.
TCCA's school administrator has declined to speak about the case, citing privacy issues.
'To protect the privacy of our families, TCCA admissions decisions and any reasons for these various decisions, are not considered matters for public disclosure,' Edgar said.
New Hampshire District 2 Executive Councilor and top New Hampshire education attorney Andru Volinsky said religious schools are allowed to ask pupils to leave regardless of whether they receive federal funding.
'In this day and age, the rights of a religious school are paramount to the rights of a student who goes there because the student always has the remedy of going to another school,' Volinsky said. Nevertheless, she considered the Zuschlag's situation 'heartbreaking'.
Zuschlag, who was born with the first name Alija, says he has not felt comfortable in his own body since the age of 10.
'I hung out with the boys and wore male attire, and even acted like a boy.'
He describes the decision to change his name to Stiles and to transition to male as 'liberating'.
Zuschlag has the full support of his family, and most of his classmates have been prepared to accept him as Stiles. However, several classmates bullied him in school and on social media, citing biblical references 'which were wrong', said Zuschlag, who said he was known as the school's best biblical scholar.
Despite the disapproval of his former school, Zuschlag is unshaken about his decision to transition. 'It was obvious to me that God wants me to do this,' he said.