After Being Booted From A Christian School, A Transgender Teen Was Just Named Homecoming King

"This experience feels like a dream."

Stiles Zuschlag was reportedly asked to leave his Christian high school for being transgender, but it turns out the setback was actually a blessing in disguise.

According to HuffPost, Zuschlag was given an ultimatum by officials at Tri-City Christian Academy in Somersworth, New Hampshire, back in August — either stop taking testosterone treatments  and receive Christian counseling, or find a new school.

Zuschlag opted for the latter choice and began classes at nearby Noble High School in Maine just a few weeks ago. Though the 17-year-old was new to the student body, he's quickly endeared himself to his classmates who crowned him Homecoming King on October 6. "This experience feels like a dream. It's something I never thought could have happened to me," he told HuffPost of the honor.

Being crowned Homecoming King may seem like a trivial high school experience, but for Zuschlag the distinction means so much more. Per Sea Coast Online, Zuschlag had been attending TCCA since kindergarten before he was asked to leave in August, about two years after he began his transition. He had dreams of becoming valedictorian, which was well within his reach thanks to a 3.89 GPA, but when the school would no longer accept him, he knew he needed to make a change.

"It felt brutal to me," Zuschlag told WCSH-6 of being told he was no longer welcome at TCCA. "I can't believe I grew up under you. I looked up to you and now you're pushing me away like a problem. Like I'm a disease."

Though transferring to Noble High School was nerve-wracking, Zuschlag knew he'd made the right choice when, in an early interview, a Noble administrator asked which pronoun would he like to be called, which gender bathroom preferred, and which locker room he wanted to used.

When it came time to nominate students for Homecoming King and Queen Zuschlag put his name in the running as a joke, but earned the overwhelming support of his classmates, which is something he hadn't really known before. "After I won at the homecoming game, I almost started crying," he told HuffPost. "My friends all put me in, people I didn't even know put me in, everyone voted for me on the final ballot."

For Zuschlag, the touching win was just another sign he'd found where he belongs after being "degraded" for years and being told by the TCCA administration to keep quiet about his transition even before he was asked to leave. Though TCCA didn't violate any laws by kicking out Zuschlag, the environment at Noble is much more friendly and inclusive.

"We want all students to feel like they belong here at Noble High School," Director of Counseling Nancy Simard explained to WCSH-6. "That's a small thing we can do to help them feel like they're a part of the community."

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