Sherman, Texas recently made waves on social media – and not for good reason.
Max Hightower, a 17-year-old senior, was thrilled to find out he had landed a lead role in his high school’s production of Oklahoma! He had already been rehearsing for the play when he was met with devastating news.
Because Hightower is transgender, he had lost his part in the show.
The school’s principal contacted Hightower and his parents to inform them that there was a new policy in place that stated; “only males can play males, and only females can play females.”
Hightower was devastated by this outrageous and unfair ruling, just another attempt at erasing trans people from every aspect of life.
Fortunately, community members from Texas and beyond would not let this stand.
Hightower’s friend Gracie Max created a petition on change.org, in hopes of motivating the school board to overturn their decision and give Max and other students their roles back. People turned to social media to express their grievances.
@jesscraven101 A #texas #highschool is cancelling a performance of #oklahomamusical because they dont think #transkidsmatter🏳️⚧️ #getloud #shermanhighschool #shermantexas #politics #news ♬ original sound – Jessica Craven
Hightower was moved by all the support he had received. “This is something that feels so big and out of my hands,” he told WFAA-TV. “To know there is a big group out of people who want to help me, and help everyone affected, it feels like we’re on even sides now and can actually win this fight.”
Nearly 10,000 signatures and a flood of emails later… it worked!
According to The Associated Press, on Monday, November 13th, the Sherman school board unanimously voted to reinstate the casting of the show and issued an apology. “We want to apologize to our students, parents and our community regarding the circumstances that they have had to go through to this date,” President Brad Morgan said in a statement.
Roswell Gray, an 18-year old from Sherman, Texas and GLAAD 20 Under 20 alumni is a friend of Hightower’s and has been working hard to amplify the story. “This story was really important to me because I was a part of the Sherman High School theatre for years and I am a transgender actor. Max has been my friend for a while now, and it was awful to hear that he lost the role due to transphobia. Since the initial news, I’ve been trying to amplify the story! Even after the reversal of the policy, there is still work to be done to make sure this issue doesn’t happen again.” Gray cites repeated instances of transphobic policies enacted by the school’s acting superintendent. “There’s another school board meeting … where this will be brought up.”
This is a major win Texas’s transgender community and a testament to the power of the people.