He’s a dedicated student athlete who loves Christian music, soccer and snowboarding—and Noble High School in North Berwick, Maine just voted this transgender 17-year-old their homecoming king.
Stiles Zuschlag told the Associated Press, as reported in an October 9 Boston Globe story, that he believes love and tolerance motivated his classmates to support him.
“The fact that I can be a face for transgender kids struggling, or people who are going through a trial—they’ll see in the end that they can get through,” Zuschlag said. “No matter what, it has to get better.”
It got better for Zuschlag when, with the support of his family, he switched schools after coming out as a transgender male at 15. His previous school—Tri-City Christian Academy in Somersworth, New Hampshire—had asked him to leave. Reports the Globe, “He said he has received both support and blowback since his story went public, but he has ‘done nothing but spread awareness and love,’ and he plans to keep it that way.”
“He’s got much more value. He’s got a soul. We all do. When you cut us all, we bleed the same,” his mother, Mara Stupelis, said, stressing her support and admiration for her son’s positive outlook.
Zuschlag credited support from social media, “where,” reports the Globe, “some members of the transgender community have shared his story as a tale of perseverance and acceptance. Zuschlag said he appreciates the support, and wants to keep setting an example.”
“I’m a transgender boy ready to change the world for the better. I’m gonna spread love where there’s hate,” he tweeted on Oct. 7. After high school, Zuschlag plans on attending college and then aims for an acting career.