A 12-year-old girl in Achille, Oklahoma, just wanted to use the restroom at her new school. But because she did, bigots and people with hate in their hearts in her community have come out of the woodwork, threatening her life online in a private Facebook group.
The transgender student known as “Maddie” was assigned as male at birth but identifies as female. Her mother, Brandy Rose, explained that she has been expressing herself as her true female identity for a while before they moved to the community.
“She's been living as female for years — she started at Achille as Maddie,” Rose said. “We had no problems when we first started.”
Maddie has been in the school district since fifth grade, and except for one other occasion has used staff restrooms whenever she needed to. But on her first day of classes at a new middle school last week, she couldn’t find the staff restroom and didn’t have time to ask around. She decided to use the girl’s restroom just this once.
Parents in the community heard about Maddie using the girls' facilities, which prompted one to post on a private Facebook group about the matter, using offensive language that identified her incorrectly as male.
“Heads up parents of 5th through 7th grade. The transgender is already using the girls bathroom,” the now-deleted post by parent Jamie Crenshaw said. “We have been told how the school has gone above and beyond to make sure he has his own restroom yet he is still using the girls.”
“Looks like its going to be a long year,” the post concluded.
The hate didn’t stop there. Parents from the Achille School District added their own thoughts, while some from outside the district chimed in on the group’s comments as well. Some suggested the best way to handle the matter was to use violence against Maddie — who is, again, a 12-year-old middle school student.
“You know we have open hunting seasons on them kind,” one individual wrote. “Aint no bag limit in them either.”
Another person suggested using a weapon to “make [Maddie] a female,” adding, “A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”
The threats of violence prompted Bryan County Sheriff Johnny Christian to suggest the schools close on Monday and Tuesday. The school district complied with the assessment and re-opened their doors on Wednesday with an added police presence. Christian may file charges against the parents threatening Maddie, and Rose filed a protective order against one of them for the threats they made.
Rose expressed outrage and confusion about the social media posts.
“That's a threat against her life — that's scary,” she said. “These are adults making threats — I don't understand it.”
A group of students did respond to the vitriol posted online. About 20 of Maddie's classmates gathered at the school on Tuesday to show their support for her, with duct tape on their mouths to emphasize how positive actions speak louder than the community's bigots' hateful words.
Attacks and acts of harassment against transgender students like Maddie, unfortunately, are too commonplace. Typically, these threats are made by other students, but what happened in Achille demonstrates that sometimes parents interject themselves and take disturbing stands as well.
These parents should know better. Their ignorance and hatred toward others must be confronted directly, to let them know that their threats are never acceptable, and to show students like Maddie that they do deserve to feel safe in their schools’ hallways.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Reuters