Asher Doyle, a 14-year-old who is transgender, has launched a viral campaign to raise tuition money in order to attend a Quaker boarding school with an inclusive environment. His story was recently covered by The Advocate.
Asher has spread his story with the help of Indiegogo and Youtube. In a letter on Indiegogo, Asher explains, “the school I currently go to is not a great fit for me. I think they try to be good allies to me, but they don’t know much about trans stuff, and I don’t feel safe coming out as trans when most of the teachers and staff are not so prepared to support me.”
He describes the past school year as being especially difficult, “isolating” and “depressing.” “I was freaking out a lot that I might be ‘outed’ by someone and I would lose my friends” he says in the video, “I just felt really uncomfortable.”
“Luckily, my mom has been very supportive and has learned a lot about trans issues over the years,” says the campaign letter. “If my mom was trans-phobic, I honestly don’t know where I would be.”
Asher’s mom, while educating herself on the trans community and ways for Asher to feel more comfortable, learned of the Arthur Morgan School. A Quaker boarding school with a Montessori philosophy in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, AMS teaches their students through hands-on and community-building activities that promote “the Quaker values of simplicity, responsibility, service, personal integrity, nonviolent conflict resolution, and respect for self, others and the environment,” according to the program’s website.
Visiting the school had a strong impact on Asher. “I really feel like this sort of outdoor education within a small community will bring out the best in me, and help me build a solid foundation for the rest of my life.”
While AMS has never before had a student who openly identified as transgender, the school's community has made a significant effort to educate itself on the needs of students who are trans. Asher says, “they’re very excited about welcoming me to the community. The staff is doing workshops to learn how to be good allies for me, and any other trans kids they get in the future.”
AMS has offered Asher a $10,000 scholarship towards the $25,000 tuition. With his mother being able to contribute a quarter of the tuition fee, Asher launched this campaign to make up the difference. So far, he has raised close to $7,400 of his $13,000 goal.
Asher’s journey illustrates the importance of education on LGBT-related issues for those who work with youth as well the significant role of community in the lives of the teens who grapple with those issues.
Along with donating to the campaign, Asher suggests showing support by sharing his links through social media sites and, especially, by sharing his story with the people you know.
Asher closes out the campaign video by explaining why he so badly wants to attend the Arthur Morgan School. “I just feel like it will make me be able to handle things more,” and he adds, “and just have more faith in humanity.”