57 Bus is inspired by a true event that took place on a bus in Oakland, California, in 2013, when an 18-year-old agender high school student's skirt was set on fire by another student. The musical explores how the lives of these two children are changed forever. After being the victim of this "hate crime," Skylar is left to decide if the cost of self-expression in an intolerant world is worth the freedom of living as your true self. By re-evaluating Skylar's own pursuit for self-expression, they learn more about themselves and discover what they must do to find the path to healing.
The other student, John Michael, is seen as an attacker; however, given his background and ultimate fate by the court, audiences must determine if he is perhaps also a victim. In the end, John Michael must decide to accept the consequences of his actions and find a way to rise against society's expectations and emerge out of his circumstances better than before.