COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A Pope High School transgender senior heard his preferred name called at graduation Wednesday afternoon. 11Alive first reported on Soren Tucker's story last week, when a petition started.
Cobb County schools argued then that it only uses "legal" names for school business.
With more than 20,000 signatures on the online petition Wednesday afternoon, the 18-year-old was able to walk across the stage as Soren Tucker.
"I wasn't necessarily as excited as people would expect because I feel like it's something that should've happened in the first place, so I was more relieved than anything," he said.
Tucker said the Pope High School principal contacted him and had a conversation.
"They have agreed to say my name," he said. "We're not sure about any other students in this class or in the future so that'll be a continuous fight whether or not this will be an implemented policy or not."
Tucker is transgender and was born with a different name, one he did not want read out loud in commencement. That's why his classmates started the petition a week before graduation.
"I've learned this past week that there are so many people in my corner. It's very reassuring," he said.
A district spokesperson sent the following statement to 11Alive:
"The Pope principal had the opportunity to speak with the student and the student's parent for the first time yesterday. They had a great conversation and the student and parent's preferences were taken into account during Pope's graduation ceremony this evening. While official school business requires the use of a student's legal name, all of our schools take student and family preference into account during informal school activities."
Tucker's diploma will read his legal name.
He said he has applied to legally change his name but the process has been slower than normal because of the pandemic.
"This is a change that needs to be implemented and if they can do it for me, they should be able to do it for other students and we hope that it can be the case in the future," he added.
Tucker is now headed to Kennesaw State University where he will major in theatre.