Triton’s Transgender Atmosphere

Transgender Student Speaks About School Attitude toward LGBTQ+ community


Sully photo

A selfie of Sully and his cat on a recent day. Sully spoke to the Triton Voice about being transgender in the school district.

When you walk into Triton High School, do you feel accepted or rejected? It is very important that when you enter a school that it feels like a safe space. Sullivan McLellan, a transgender junior at Triton, feels both supported and misunderstood by students and teachers.

“Teachers have been great,” said McLellan. “Students don’t really know I guess.”

Triton has had and has many transgender students. McLellan is a student who has recently transitioned; he gave some stories to spread awareness and some resources to help LGBTQ+ youth. This topic is especially important to members of the Triton staff like Mr. Patrick Kelley and Ms. Margaret Flaherty. They both want these students to feel that they are supported and that they have a safe space as well as a person that they can talk to, overall feeling comfortable in their school setting even though that is not always the case.

A transgender person’s chosen name means a lot to them, as it is often one of the first things that they do to transition. When he was going through his transition, McLellan wanted to try out different names. “I actually saw a TikTok where the person, saying that he had tried this name and he didn’t really like how it felt when he got called that and so he looked for others,” said McLellan. “I was like ‘Maybe I should do that’ and then I spent five or six months going through names.” McLellan goes to a group for LGBTQ+ youth called NAGLY which stands for North Shore Alliance for GLBTQ+ Youth. He enjoys the support they provide and encourages students to go. NAGLY has locations in both Newburyport and Salem. 

Patrick Kelley has done research and taken the time to make sure that Triton is as transgender-friendly as possible. “Usually we would start that conversation with the student about what their parents’ knowledge and acceptance is,” said Kelley about the first step in a transition at Triton. The next step would be to go to guidance and find the form called “Change of Student Information Form Name and Gender Change Request.” Triton used a lot of questions on the form from the Boston Public Schools. “As a significantly larger district, Boston Public Schools come in contact with this type of thing more frequently,” said Kelley. Kelley was incredibly adamant about the importance of making sure all students feel comfortable and accepted at Triton.

Flaherty has heard it all from many years of being the Gender Literature teacher at Triton and has had many different experiences with students and teachers over the years regarding transgender students. Flaherty has started within the past five years to ask students pronouns during the “getting to know you” part of the year. “I’ve only had students thank me,” said Flaherty “and let me know that from the first day they knew they were in a safe space.” Some of the stories that Flaherty has heard about transgender students’ at Triton and their experiences are shocking to hear. “Students have come to me with stories,” said Flaherty “where a teacher would refuse to call them by their chosen name and will only dead-name them.” This is a huge issue that is trying to be prevented at Triton.

As the president of GSA, Sage Woodward asked members of the club if teachers were asking about preferred pronouns in their opening google forms and this year a lot of teachers actually did which was very important to a lot of students. “A few years ago in GSA we did a thing where students were able to change their name in Aspen from their dead-name to their new name,” said Woodward, talking about the things that GSA is going to try and accomplish for this year that would be beneficial to transgender students “We are trying to make more gender-neutral bathrooms that everyone can know about.” The Triton community has been becoming more and more transgender-friendly throughout the years and is still making progress.