Robert E. Lee, now John Lewis, High School alumni may get new diplomas

Virginia

"To students who have struggled and fought to change the name of their high school, being able to receive a diploma with the high school’s new name also means the world to them.”

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (WDVM) — The Fairfax County School Board may consider allowing Robert E. Lee High School alumni to request a new diploma. The school board voted to change the school’s name to John Lewis High School last week. 

The proposal is school board member Karl Frisch’s idea. Transgender and gender fluid graduates have complained that they can’t get a new diploma after they’ve transitioned and changed their legal names. Likewise, he’s hearing from alumni who graduated as far back as 30 years ago who would like a new diploma. 

“To a student who has transitioned and has a new name, it means the world that their official documents reflect who they are,” Frisch said. “And to students who have struggled and fought to change the name of their high school, being able to receive a diploma with the high school’s new name also means the world to them.” 

In 2017, the school board voted to rename J.E.B. Stuart High School, now Justice High School, and the name change process changed. Now, the school board has to agree it will consider a name change and will have to vote on it. If it passes, the board must host a community meeting and a public hearing. If that passes, the name choice is very similar.

“John Lewis is a great example of the type of impact young people can have in this country,” Frish said. “His formative years of high school and college were as a civil rights leader and that’s exactly the kind of mentality Fairfax County Public Schools hopes to impart on its graduates.” 

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