When Miami Palmetto High School senior Olivia Solomon was deciding on her Girl Scout Gold Award project, she had special inspiration from her younger sibling.
Solomon met with the management of all the Pinecrest public buildings to convince them to designate some of the public bathrooms as gender neutral bathrooms.
‘I went to all of the buildings to see if there are single stall bathrooms,” she says. “Instead of two bathrooms labeled male or female, we offered to change the signs to ones saying family bathrooms, making them gender neutral.”
The buildings include those in the parks and the community center, and the Café at Pinecrest Gardens.
“I changed the signs in those available,” she says.
She began planning the project in the middle of her sophomore year.
“I was trying to come up with different topics,” she says. “And thinking about my brother and my advocacy work with the LGBTQ community I came up with this.”
Solomon researched the issue and decided it was something she really wanted to tackle.
“I have a younger brother who is gender non-conforming– this means he identifies as male but presents female,” she says. “Having a gender-neutral bathroom makes his life easier.
This makes people like my brother feel safer in the community. Now when we go to the park to play, now there is a bathroom he can feel he can use.”
In addition to securing gender neutral bathrooms in Pinecrest, Solomon met with Alberto Carvalho, the Miami-Dade School System Superintendent to request gender neutral bathrooms in all public schools.
“It’s something he’s working to include in a five-year plan,” she says. “I’m keeping in touch with him to see if it will happen.”
She hopes to take her project to Miami-Dade County to re-label bathrooms in county buildings.
“That’s something I want to try to do before I graduate,” she says. “Working with local government, is challenging but attainable.”
At Palmetto, she was treasurer for the Class of 2020 until this year when she became Student Council treasurer.
She’s been on the staff for the school paper, the Panther, for three years. She is currently advertising chair.
“I’m in charge of all the financials for the paper,” she says.
She started as a staff writer, moved up to business manager. This year that title changed to advertising chair and it was moved into leadership role.
“I’ve loved the newspaper and I love writing,” she says. “I get to participate in as much writing as I can. I write twice a month for online.”
She attended a three-week summer workshop at the University of Miami Journalism School.
“We were able to go out into Miami and do real stories,” she says. “I wrote about women and children immigrants and how much harder their journeys are in comparison to others.”
She is the secretary of the Psychology Honor Society and a member of The Alliance, formerly known as the Gay Straight Alliance, as an ally.
Solomon is looking to stay in state for college, so she’s applying to Florida State, the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida and others. She plans to major in Journalism and Communications.
Over her high school career, Solomon has earned more than 600 community service hours.
Many stem from her Gold Award project but she also earned hours as a CIT at a URJ Six Points Creative Arts Academy.
“It’s a summer camp that specializes in the arts,” she says.
She taught both writing and visual arts. Drawing and painting have always been a hobby of hers.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld