Halifax West High in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is welcoming its first transgender player to their football team and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
And Kennedy Cooley, the young teenager at the center of the story, couldn’t be happier.
“I’m so amped up the whole game. And I’m just ready to go.” Speaking with ABC News, he confessed, “I’ve heard a lot of the guys are like family. They all get along together, you know. They all know each other and they are very close friends and I was just really nervous about going in there and maybe someone wasn’t OK with me being transgender.”
Cooley transferred from another high school because the students were “not very accepting,” a norm rather than an exception. A study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed what most have long suspected: LGBTQ youth are at higher risk for suicide, bullying, absenteeism and drug use.
David Kelly, the team’s head coach added, “He’s very new to the sport so I think he’s still in the process of learning the game in that aspect. As a teammate he seems to get along well with everyone.
“Everyone has been welcoming and just treats him like just one of the other guys,” his mother said. “Which is part of life. He just wants to be included and be one of the other guys…They seem to be a great group of guys.
“Everyone was just so accepting. It was amazing,” the younger Cooley confirmed.
As for any words of wisdom from this courageous young man? “If you’re unsure about going out for a team because you’re scared or you just don’t feel it’s right for you, take the risk. Take the jump.”