The following email was sent to @JCPSKY Board Members and Superintendent, with a copy to Dear JCPS. We are publishing it with permission from the author, amid what appears to be emerging as a systemic and pervasive pattern of discrimination that has been allowed to fester in a number of our schools under the previous administration. By sharing this former student’s deeply personal testimony with our followers, our hope is that this pattern can be stopped once and for all, so no other students or staff will be subjected to similar treatment. Dear JCPS encourages JCPS to take swift action and send a clear message that discrimination, in any form, will not be tolerated.
I had an encounter with Manual Principal Jerry Mayes in my senior year of high school in 2015 that, at the time scared and silenced me. I was asked about my body and my genitalia as a transgender male. This was after Mayes had seen me exiting the male restroom at Manual during my study hall hour at the end of the day. He called my teacher to have a private meeting about the matter with me during school hours. I was scared and quite confused as I had been out and presenting as male and using the male restroom at the school before he was Principal for over 2 years prior. He had me sit down, asked me how school was going, and then asked me what surgeries I had done. This was without any warning. He asked what I had done to my body “anatomically”. I asked him for what purpose this served and he really didn’t have any other answer than “if I get in trouble for you using the restroom”. He probed me for answers about what was under my clothing.
Mayes knew I was transgender due to an article just 6 months prior in my 3rd year of high school that a journalism student had written about me and my journey through high school and the education and awareness I hoped to advocate for as a student for the year book. However, he fought this article and even brought my parents in to discuss with me the dangers he would face for allowing this educational article publish. He even had equated it during the meeting to having an article about masturbation. He had equated my identity and self to this analogy and it hurt. However I did not have the strength to speak up as a student who just wanted to graduate without worry.
Uncomfortable situations with Jerry Mayes did not stop even after my own experiences. He would call my teachers pet names, even after they had asked him not to. Bearing witness to multiple situations of this nature that made faculty and staff uncomfortable made me also more skeptical of his power and abuse of it.
I’ve hoped as a Manual graduate to let time heal things for Jerry Mayes and for more learning opportunities to arise, however, his patterns of private student meetings with constant probing and borderline harassment have continued for students I know in the Black Student Union (which he took credit for, but adamantly opposed its creation) and for Manual’s Gay Straight Transgender Alliance’s gender neutral restrooms that he had also previously strongly opposed.
I wish to speak out after many years of being afraid of telling someone what Jerry Mayes had said or done to me. I have spoken at several JCPS board meetings about the matter, but never mentioned him by name for fear of being targeted by him in another “private meeting” setting where probing and borderline harassment was present. As a graduate of duPont Manual, I feel a responsibility to helping future students and staff. I am willing to discuss any of the matters I have mentioned publicly and thoroughly if needed as well.
Thank you for listening,
Founder of QueerArtHistory.com
3rd year design student at Cal Poly Pomona
Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers Graphic Designer
The views expressed here are those of the author and the email is a matter of public record, subject to discovery under the Kentucky open records act. If you or someone you know has had a similar experience with leadership in a JCPS school, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form.