A transgender Halifax teenager who transferred high schools over bullying says he’s been warmly accepted on his new school’s football team.
Kenny Cooley, a Grade 12 student at Halifax West High School, was initially nervous to put his name on the try-out list.
“I was scared of what other people would think about me on the team and I felt like I wouldn’t fit in,” Cooley told CTV News Channel on Wednesday. “It took me about a good hour of pacing around the school and then I finally had the courage to go up and grab a pencil and I decided to put my name on the list.”
Cooley was later selected to be the team’s wide receiver, and the Halifax West Warriors had their first game on Monday.
“I was super nervous. I had butterflies in my stomach and I had chills, just everything,” Cooley said.
Cooley was reassured by support from his father, who was sitting in the bleachers, as well as his teammates, who he described as “caring” and “accepting.”
“It’s very family-oriented. You feel like you’re a brother, you don’t feel like you’re a player. They’re just so open and they accept you for who you are,” he said.
It’s a welcome change for Cooley. He said the atmosphere at his previous high school made him decide to leave.
“It wasn’t very comfortable for me. They weren’t really accepting of the LGBT2QA+ community, so I made the switch,” he said.
The football season is still early, but the team’s coach said Cooley is a team-minded player who will likely teach his fellow players a few lessons both on and off the field.
“It will help kids to maybe understand Kenny’s issues and some of the things that Kenny is facing and it will give them the perspective that they probably wouldn’t have had before,” said head coach David Kelly.