By Mary Walsh, SIECUS Program Research Intern
Vancouver’s Evergreen School District was roiled by the visibility of a “cross-dressing” substitute 6th-grade Humanities teacher at Wy'East Middle School. The male teacher reported for work in women’s Capri pants, to the consternation of some students and parents. This was not the first time the substitute has worked for Evergreen, having taught 19 previous times at over a dozen different district schools. The situation appears to have generated media attention only because some students in the Wy’East humanities class taunted the teacher and disrupted the learning environment. Many students did not view the teacher’s attire as a problem. "It just kind of makes me mad that people would make fun of someone just for being different," sixth grade student Kelli English said.1
School administrators removed the disruptive students and allowed class to continue as normal. The school district released a statement affirming its protection of gender expression, and stressing that its priority is to ensure that instruction occurs as planned.2
Some parents expressed displeasure that the male teacher was not reprimanded for wearing what many view as “female” clothing. However, the opposition paled in comparison to the outsize local media coverage. “I’m aware of only one call to the district office,” noted Evergreen district spokesperson Carol Fenstermacher. The caller “just wanted to let us know her opinion — which was she was unhappy about it.” In addition the Wy’East school office received complaints from only two parents.
1 “Cross-dressing Sub Creates Middle School Controversy,” WNEM.com, 5 November 2011, accessed 21 November 2011, <http://www.wnem.com/story/15903672/cross-dressing-sub-creates-buzz-on-middle-school-campus>.
2 “Cross-dressing Teacher a Sub in NW School District,” WKATU.com, 29 October 2011, accessed 21 November 2011, <http://www.kval.com/news/local/132790468.html>.
3 Tom Vogt, “Law Protects Cross-dressing Teacher,” The Columbian, 28 October 2011, accessed 28 November 2011, <http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/oct/28/law-protects-cross-dressing-teacher/>.