Metro Detroit schools face lawsuit claiming transgender child was bullied

It's a lawsuit that is capturing the attention of many.

A suit like this has never been filed before and the child at the center of the controversy just wants to be treated like any other kid.

Photos show little Olivia as a happy little girl. However, her mother said she knew early on her daughter was different.

As Olivia grew, she identified more with the boys at school, then began dressing the part later in life. She has transitioned into living as a boy.

She changed her name and is now referred to as "he." It may not be surprising that other kids had issues with Olivia's transition. Some teasing, unfortunately, likely was inevitable. But what surprised Olivia's family were the teachers and administrators who seemed unpleased with the change and unwilling to work through the transition.

The lawsuit names four different public school districts which Olivia attended during the past several years -- Van Buren, Summit Academy North, Dearborn Heights and Wyandotte. The suit claims the child was harassed, verbally abused by teachers, that administrators refused to acknowledge the change in lifestyle and that they did little to accommodate the child's needs.

The child now is 14 and in a new school.

The school districts named in the lawsuit released these statements:

Dearborn Heights:

"District 7 takes these matters seriously as the safety and education of students is our number one priority. We are working with our legal council and will respond to the claims. In respect for the privacy of the student, we have no further comment."

Leann S. Hedke, Interim Program Director, Summit Academy North:

"We are in receipt of the lawsuit and have forwarded it to the district's attorneys. Our attorneys have filed a response on behalf of Summit Academy North."

Michael Van Tassel, Superintendent at Van Buren Public Schools:

"We received a complaint and turned it over to our insurance company. It is inappropriate for me to comment on pending litigation."

Catherine M. Cost, Superintendent at Wyandotte Public Schools:

"We take these matters very seriously as the safety of our students is our first priority. We are working with our legal counsel to review the complaint and develop a response. Although the student is no longer registered in Wyandotte, we wish him success."

About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.