Elementary School Rallies Around Transgender Principal Who Came Out In A Letter

“Getting to the point of being willing to share those feelings has been a long and challenging process."

A community is rallying around an elementary school principal in Massachusetts who came out as transgender earlier this month via an "intensely personal" letter.

According to USA Today, Stanley Elementary School principal Shannon Daniels opened up about her gender identity in the missive, telling students, parents, and faculty, "After confronting a series of challenges last fall, I let myself imagine the possibility of being completely honest with myself and those around me. I can now say it: I am transgender. For me, that means I identify as both a male and female, and I plan to move toward presenting myself and identifying as female."

Though the concept of embracing her transgender identity was once "terrifying" to Daniels, she intends to gradually start dressing, acting, and sounding differently, and has already gotten support from her community. In a separate letter sent to parents, Swampscott Schools Superintendent Pamela Angelakis praised Daniels for her "courage, honesty, and transparency."

"Getting to the point of being willing to share those feelings has been a long and challenging process," Angelakis wrote. "I hope you will join me and the entire district leadership team in offering Principal Daniels our acceptance, understanding, and support."

Also available for guidance was Heath School Principal Asa Sevelius, who announced last June that he is transgender. The leader of the Brookline, Ma. school told the Salem Daily News that after Daniels contacted him, he advised her to clear her calendar because "people are going to have a lot of questions." 

Though Daniels currently has no plans to address her transition with the students, she explained to the local publication that she will answer questions if asked. The Salem Daily News also reported that to help Swampscott's 280 students in kindergarten through fourth grade and their families better understand Daniels' transition, a question-and-answer session for parents took place earlier this week. That session reportedly included a representative from the state's Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students, and parents were given a list of suggested reading materials. 

In her "intensely personal" letter, Daniels explained she's aware this transition won't be effortless for all, but seemed determined to protect the school and its students. "I know there will be questions, and I am aware of the likelihood that my transition won't necessarily be easy for everyone," she added. "I will do everything in my power to ensure that there is no negative impact on our school community."

Per a report from CBS Boston, many parents with children at Swampscott support Daniels. As one mother told her children, "I just explained Principal Daniels looks like a boy, but inside feels like a girl."

A father added to CBS Boston that he thought Daniels has a "lot of courage" for coming out, and that he hopes that Daniels is principal for "many years to come."

Cover image via  Stephen Orsillo / Shutterstock.

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