An Oklahoma middle school was forced to cancel classes earlier this week after a 12-year-old transgender student received an onslaught of threats online from adults.
It all started when Maddie, who is in her second week of the 7th grade, needed to use the bathroom last week in the middle school the district had just re-opened. Her mother Brandy Rose told local television station KXII that for the past two years, Maddie had been using the staff's bathroom.
But in this new campus, she was unsure of where it was. So, Maddie used the girls' bathroom — the one that corresponds with her gender identity — just once.
An angry mother of a fellow student found out about Maddie's bathroom use and took to a private Facebook group for parents at Achille Independent School District to express her grievances.
"Heads up parents of 5th thru 7th grade girls," the woman, Jamie Crenshaw, wrote. “The transgender is already using the girls bathroom. 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. REALLY . . . Looks like it’s gonna be a long year."
What followed was a shameful display of hate from fellow parents, who posted a series of threats against a 12-year-old just because of her gender identity. A post suggesting Maddie should be violently castrated read: "If he wants to be a female make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick."
Another person encouraged Maddie's peers to beat her up. “Just tell the kids to kick ass in the bathroom," the person wrote, "and it won’t want to come back!!" One parent called Maddie a "lil half baked maggot" and a "thing."
After being closed for two days, the school re-opened Wednesday. The district said that the conversations online didn't reflect its views.
"Achille schools and administration take the safety of every student very serious," Superintendent Rick Beene told The Oklahoman. "Private discussions held on the social media do not reflect the views of Achille school, staff, administration, or school board. Achille school believes everyone should receive a safe and free education. We have a very talented staff that cares about each and every student."
“Their killings were committed by lovers, acquaintances, family members, neighbors, and strangers,” the report reads. “While every story highlighted in this report is unique and tragic, they all also reflect a legacy of intolerance, hate, and discrimination that transgender people must navigate and surmount every day.”
The report also said that the lack of laws protecting transgender people can lead to violence against them.
"In many states, anti-transgender bias is ingrained and systematically enforced in nearly all aspects of life," it said, "including in laws and government agencies, schools, housing, health care, and employment."
In the past, the Oklahoma Legislature has tried to implement legislation requiring transgender students to use the bathrooms that correspond to their assigned sex, not their gender identity. And at the federal level, the Trump administration rescinded an Obama-era directive that allowed trans students to use the restrooms that matches their gender identity. The Department of Education also stopped investigating civil rights complaints from transgender students.
Maddie's family filed a protective order against a person that shares the surname of one of the parents who threatened her.
“These are adults making threats to a child. I don’t understand it,” Rose, Maddie's mother, told KXII. "She’s just an awesome kid, and then to see any fear in her like that ... I can’t explain how bad that hurts me."