Grace Ingledue, a junior at UNC and graduate of Chapel Hill High School, came out as transgender the summer before her junior year of high school.
As a high school student, Ingledue said her deadname was shown on school records and would randomly cause issues. At graduation, the middle initial of her deadname was called — just one example of the day-to-day reminders she faced as a high school student.
Three years later, a recent change from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will now allow North Carolina public school students to list their affirmed name on most state records, like PowerSchool and report cards. This change, which comes at a time when transgender students have faced the threat of being outed due to virtual learning, was made in mid-March.
The NCDPI said in a statement that now, the only report that will display the legal name of a student is the official N.C. transcript. The department has worked with PowerSchool to add the ability to display preferred names for students.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Office of Equity and Inclusion department said in a statement that any student who prefers another name will be benefited. There is no additional process to complete this change or justification needed to do so, the office said.
“The fact that students are now able to change their name in PowerSchool without going through that hellish process is so great,” Ingledue said.
Rebby Kern, the director of education policy for Equality N.C., an organization dedicated to securing rights and protections for the state's LGBTQ+ community, said that this update will allow for transgender students to learn in a way that is confidential and protects their transgender status.
Kern said that when classroom learning went virtual, some transgender students reported being outed because PowerSchool was populating their legal names onto platforms like Google Classroom and Canvas.
“This outing and misgendering often leads to increased rates for trans students of dysphoria, increased cyberbullying, as well as anxiety, depression and other mental health outcomes,” Kern said.