SOMERSWORTH, New Hampshire — A high school senior says the private Christian school in New Hampshire that he attended since kindergarten told him he was no longer welcome because of his gender identity and suggested he get counseling.
Stiles Zuschlag of Lebanon, Maine, told Seacoast Media Group he had excelled academically and in sports and had many friends at Tri-City Christian Academy in Somersworth when he made it known in 2015 that he was transgender.
He was on track to be valedictorian at the school this year, he said, before he and his mother met with the school administrator in August to talk about Zuschlag’s transition from female to male.
Zuschlag said the administrator, Paul Edgar, told him that he was no longer welcome at the school, that he was “going down the wrong path,” and he should confess his sins and stop testosterone treatments. The teenager said he was told that he could not return to the school campus but could consider options, such as home-schooling and Christian counseling.
He decided then to transfer to Noble High School in North Berwick, Maine, where he said he now feels accepted.
He was nominated Prince of Homecoming at his new school. And while he misses his old school, he is hopeful he can be who he is at Noble.
“It’s a big loss, I mean they lost a big student,” he said. But “I’ll just bring my excellence here, then. I’ll just excel here.”
Edgar declined to speak about the former student, 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.
Lori Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Department of Education, said Tri-City Christian Academy doesn’t receive federal funds through the state office.
New Hampshire education attorney Andru Volinsky told Seacoast that religious schools can legally ask a student to leave regardless of whether the school receives federal funding.