When I was in High School, I was very lucky as Shorewood High has arguably one of the best drama clubs in the country. Drama club and the Thespian society has always been a refuge for misfit kids, unwilling or unable to follow the beat of the mainstream popularity band. See? Songs like this spoke to me (not that I ever really wanted to be popular):
(although, admittedly, this was after my time… but you get the picture).
Drama and Thespian clubs around the country are generally friendly, accepting places. They are often particularly friendly and accepting places for queer youth. You don’t have to be out, but you can be. You don’t have be gender-bendy, but you can be. You don’t have fill traditional roles or date, but you can. It’s the theater! Anything goes. Even in Wisconsin. Even in the 90s.
I left for my Junior year abroad and come home to an even more accepting high school— if memory serves me correctly, Shorewood High was only the third high school in Wisconsin to create a gay straight alliance. The Spanish Teacher was our teacher sponsor and allowed us to meet in her room over lunch. It was an ecclectic group of mostly not-quite-out people and people who have become amazing allies to the community. We put up posters, lobbied for same sex couples to attend prom, and pushed back on bullying. We even went to a regional conference in Chicago!
It was high school in the midwest. It was a big deal.
While scrolling through my news-feed, I learned that Shorewood High has maintained its progressive nature. In March 2014, Shorewood became the first Milwaukee-area district to implement a policy formally recognizing and providing facilities for transgender students — the goal of which is to provide a safe and appropriate learning environment for transgender students and to ensure the involvement of and respect from the district’s staff, according to the resolution. The school board on Tuesday, Nov. 10, approved a resolution stating its position on transgender policy and its stance against Assembly Bill 469, which would require transgender students to use facilities designated for their biological gender.
I can only hope that the Board Members, students, and faculty speaking up and speaking out can defeat the Assembly Bill. Being a teen is hard enough, we don’t need to make it worse for transgender students by controlling what bathroom they are allowed to use.