Friday, September 15, 2006


Mr. Schott (Ridgley) was the principal at Washington High School. He was a "freshman" the same year I was. In other words, he became a principal for the first time for the start of my freshman year.

I remember Schott as being sort of tall and thin. I also seem to recall him wearing suspenders quite often.

I never had a whole lot of contact with Mr. Schott. But I will say this. He was one of the nicest teachers/administrators that I ever came across in my entire academic career. I know my parents liked him too. If you read my entry on Mr. Wood, you'll see that they quickly grew tired of Wood, and refused to meet with him whenever I got into trouble. Instead, they met with Mr. Schott.

Mr. Schott always had a smile and a hello for his students. He really knew how to relate well to everyone. I often thought that Mr. Wood should simply spend an entire week with Schott, and watch what he does. He may have learned something.

During my senior year, Schott came into Ms. Neveau's class for a day, to show us some slides or pictures from his time out in Hollywood. If memory serves, he had a personal friend who was a big director or producer or something. In fact, Schott told a story of how he was at this guy's house, when the phone rang. Schott picked it up, and was stunned to find himself talking with Clint Eastwood. Schott also said that his friend named a character in a Fantasy Island episode after him - Mr. Ridgley. That's pretty cool.

Mr. Schott was one of the rare administrators that actually participated in the senior video. He wished us well, and reiterated that he had been a "freshman" the same year we were. He was also wearing suspenders at the time.

At some point in the 1990's, Mr. Schott left Washington and became a principal in Burlington, Vermont. No doubt he was missed. However, Schott gained a small measure of recognition in the media for this story.

Saturday, September 14, 1996

Matt Stickney is 15 years old and openly gay, and he's determined to wear drag to his high school classes in Burlington, Vermont. But after 3 days of Stickney going to school in a dress, wig and full make-up, his principal declared an end to it September 9.

On September 11, more than a dozen of Stickney's fellow students protested outside the school. Principal Ridgley Schott cites a need to preserve order, noting that Stickney's appearance was distracting other students from their classwork.

Stickney says he'll go to court if he must to win the same freedom of choice in clothes that female students have, in order to express his personality.

Burlington, VT - October 5, 1996

As dozens of local supporters sprawled across the green lawn, a procession of speakers mounted the front steps of the downtown Unitarian Universalist Church today to voice their fervent support and concern for suspended crossdressing teen Matthew Stickney.

Posters declaring "Support Our GenderQueer Youth," "Freedom of Gender Expression!" and "Liberty, Freedom, & Pleats" framed the church doors. During the event demonstrators handed out hundreds of fliers to the amused and often supportive local crowds enjoying a last warm Saturday afternoon in this normally quiet New England town.

Stickney, who identifies variously as gay, drag, and crossdressing, was suspended from Burlington H.S. September 9th when he wore a dress to class. He stated it was his way of showing pride in his identity. But after he was verbally assaulted by other students, the principal claimed it was Stickney who was "creating a disturbance," and demanded he change his attire. A series of confrontations then ensued, which led to Stickney's suspension.

The case quickly attracted a barrage of national media attention as one of a growing number incidents involving transgender and genderqueer gay youth. Stickney responded by going into hiding. He has not returned to school or appeared in public since, and at the rally it was two of his high school friends who spoke on his behalf and took a black Menace T- shirt for him as a keepsake.

Said Jane Ellen Fairfax of Tri-S, the nation's largest crossdressing organization and a rally sponsor, "This is not about one high school student, but about *everyone's* basic right to express gender without the fear of harassment, hate-speech, or punishment. Whether you are straight or gay makes no difference: wearing a dress is not grounds for intolerance or bigotry."

The event was organized by Jess Bell (Transexual Menace Vermont), Nancy Nangeroni (Transexual Menace Boston), and Riki Anne Wilchins (Transexual Menace NYC) and attracted sponsorship from a broad spectrum of local groups including the Burlington Women's Council, Outright Vermont, Bi-Net Vermont, the Vermont Coalition for Gay & Lesbian Rights, the Peace & Justice Center, and Vermont's queer newspaper "Out in the Mountains." both local television stations sent camera crews to conduct interviews.

Adding to the rally's flavor, the local Ben & Jerry's provided scores of free ice-cream coupons to event attendees.

I haven't been able to find out how that story ended. I would imagine that the student lost. I have no problem with gays, or with someone wanting to express himself. But if in fact he was a distraction to the learning process (which he probably was) then he no doubt lost his battle. I'd be interested to know how it played out.

Anyway, after being in Vermont for a number of years, Mr. Schott actually returned to Two Rivers, and became the principal of the high school once again. He still holds that position today.

There aren't enough kind words to describe Mr. Schott. I can honestly say that out of the five schools that I attended as a child, Mr. Schott was the only principal that I actually got along with. Quite often the mere mention of the word "principal" conjures up images of a mean disciplinarian. Mr. Schott was nothing of the kind. I hope he continues as principal for years to come.

UPDATE - 2/12/07 - I found a recent photo of Mr. Schott. You can see it below.


At Sun Sep 17, 01:39:00 PM PDT, Blogger Brandon P. said...

Cool guy. I always thought that he and Mr. Wood were perfect compliments to each other. Kind of the "good cop/bad cop" duo.

My favorite memory of Mr. Schott was in the chorus room. Kiffe and I and maybe Greg were in there either after school or during study hall. Kiffe and I both had our guitars there and were making some noise and Mr. Schott walked in. He asked Kiffe if he could borrow his and started jammin' a 1960s surfer tune. It may have been Miserlou (Pulp Fiction soundtrack) or Pipeline. I was quite impressed.

At Thu Nov 29, 09:06:00 AM PST, Blogger Matthew C Stickney said...

I am Matthew Stickney the cross dressing teen at Burlington Hight School back in 96. I can tell you that I am doing well. I have grown so much over the years. I went on to lead the vermont civil union bill when it passed. I still lead a very political life. Standing up for the rights and freedoms of bi,gay,les,trans and str8 youth in our school. I still fight for my own rights as well as the rights of others who are opressed in the nation by close minedness or religion. I belive that Mr. Schott was and still is a bigget tords sexual orentation and opresses his personal belifes on others. Mr Schott is not some one I know at this time however he is some one that left a very profound mark on my life. I will never forget the man that punched me in the face on live tv. Nore the man that stood there on the side walk telling me that I was "disrupting the educational process of this school" I am always wanted to ask him just how I was disturbing the process when I was more dressed the the girls in our school. I upheld the schools dress code as well as my rights there of. I did and would again for me or any other person. Again this is Matthew Stickney. NHJockboi24@yahoo.com NHJockboi24@myspace.com


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