Reporter Emily Toman explored the topic by talking to Oliver, the student, as well as his family, friends, school officials and medical experts. I remember when we talked about the piece, we agreed that some personal questions would need to be asked if we were to actually help people understand their transgendered peers and neighbors. Thus questions about bathrooms and locker rooms were addressed.
Many of Oliver’s classmates at Woodrow first knew him as Olivia, so although in most public places he was seen as a boy, at school, his identity gave pause to some. His mother and teachers talk about it in this segment:
In public, he always has passed as a boy. But when he entered Woodrow as Oliver instead of Olivia, using the boys’ bathroom and theater dressing room became problematic. Marjorie recalls two incidents in which an adult complained to administrators, and Oliver ended up in the principal’s office.
“To me, it was the first time I really hit a wall and felt attacked and that my child was being bullied,” she says. “I lay there on the couch at night sobbing.”
Woodrow principal Kyle Richardson says the situations quickly fizzled after he made it clear that Oliver was indeed allowed to use boys’ facilities.
“It just works itself out,” he says. “Usually what will happen is, if you have a discussion about something, everybody’s got an opinion. But if you put something into practice, people react very differently then. That’s not a big deal.”
People have a right to voice concerns, he says, but it’s unusual in the Woodrow community.
“Oliver’s being transgender is pretty far down the list of things that come to mind when I think about Oliver. I know him as a student and as an actor. Oliver’s Oliver.”
AP English teacher Keith Black says Oliver is “just a standard top-tier student at Woodrow,” and from what Black has witnessed, other students treat him like everybody else. They don’t tease or harass him.
Does that mean he’s accepted or simply tolerated?
“They just said, ‘OK’ and went on with their lives,” Black says.
The U.S. government’s recent instructions on public school bathrooms is right in line with the Woodrow principal’s guidance to the Woodrow community.
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