Friends upset by Claremont High School misidentifying transgender student who died

CLAREMONT, Calif. (KABC) -- The sudden death of a transgender student at Claremont High School has not only shaken students and staff members, but is also causing frustration in the LGBTQ community over the decision by the school district to use the name the student was born with, as opposed to the name the student had chosen.

Friends say Chloe Vivian Kreutzer died from an accidental prescription drug overdose. An email that the school principal issued last week identified the 9th grade student who died by their "deadname," even though the student was in the process of transitioning and was using the name Chloe Vivian Kreutzer.

The practice of referring to a transgender person by the name they were born with, accidentally or not, is called "deadnaming." One of the student's friends said it is causing further pain in the transgender community on campus.

"It's very hurtful," said Alexa McMillan, who said she had been friends with Kreutzer for the past three years. "You were that person before and you're changing into a new person, so you're evolving in a way. It's hurtful when you get called that name because it's bringing you back to how you were, and who you no longer are."

Eyewitness News spoke with both of the victim's parents. Kreutzer's mother said that her child had started using the name Chloe more than a year ago, and they had recently spoken to a school counselor about making a name change going forward. But she said that Kreutzer's father disagreed with the transition.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, Kreutzer's father said, "We're all mourning this person. We all loved this person. We're only using his legal name. It's the only name we knew."

As to the decision to use the name the student was born with, the Claremont Unified School District didn't address the matter specifically.

"Claremont High School and the entire CUSD family are grieving the loss of one of our students. Our crisis team, including counselors and therapists, is currently supporting our students and staff. Our community is once again wrapping its arms around the CUSD family and we appreciate the outpouring of love and support," said Dr. Julie Olesniewicz, the Interim Superintendent of Schools.

"I realize that some students, parents, or community members have concerns regarding the statement that Claremont High School put out regarding this loss. When tragic events happen to our students, the District only puts out a statement reflecting the family's wishes and only does so with the consent of a family representative. The District cannot further comment on this matter due to respecting the confidentiality of the student and family. The CUSD family is asking everyone to focus on the needs of the grieving family, friends, and staff and respect the privacy of all those impacted by this tragic loss."

As to the process by which the school district uses to decide what name to use, Dr. Olesniewicz said district policy is to use the name that the student identifies with.

"For some students, this is a preferred name that is only used at school, while the student uses a different name in the home. Preferred names are listed in our student information system. If the student is comfortable with parents and guardians seeing this name, the change is made so that it is visible to them as well. These requests are generally initiated by the student through the student's counselor. However, a parent can also contact the counselor, school, or district office to make this change."

EDITOR'S NOTE: In a previous version of this story, we used Chloe's deadname. As this is offensive to members of the transgender community, it has been removed.
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