This Oklahoma student is twelve years old, in the seventh grade, and transgender. Her family moved into the Achille Independent School District, in rural Byron County, when she was in fifth grade, and she has always attended schools there as a girl.
“She’s been living as female for years—she started at Achille as [her name],” said her mother in an interview with local TV station KXII. “We had no problems when we first started.”
The issue, as has been the loud and public issue for transgender people for some time now, is restrooms. In fifth and sixth grade, the student used a staff restroom at the elementary school. But in her first days at middle school during the first full week of August, she couldn’t find the staff room and instead used the girls’ restroom.
Under President Obama, a federal directive was put out to all public schools directing them to allow transgender students to use whichever restroom made them feel safest. The Trump administration, of course, walked that directive back within a week; however, it is still perfectly legal in Oklahoma for the student to use the women’s restroom. But that didn’t matter to local resident Jamie Crenshaw, who posted about it to the district’s unofficial Facebook group, inventing a scandal about the student looking into stalls out of thin air. Her post is dehumanizing, calling the child “the transgender” and “he.”
People responding to her post went still further, threatening violence and mutilation against this little girl: “If he wants to be female, make him female. A good sharp knife will do the trick,” and “Just tell the kids to kick ass in the bathroom and it won’t want to come back” were a couple of comments. One person said it was “hunting season” on transgender students. Few, if any, of the people commenting had any connection to the small school district.
Fearing violence or a demonstration, Superintendent Rick Beene closed the school for August 13-14, and has hired an additional “resource officer” to attend the school. The student’s family has filed a restraining order against one of those tagged in Crenshaw’s post, but their little girl is afraid for her life and afraid of school. Violence has already been done, and her recovery will take strength.
The good news in all of this is that the LGBTQ community and its allies have rushed to the student’s side. PFLAG Oklahoma City tweeted, “Grown adults threatening mutilation of a preteen trans child in our own backyard. This is unacceptable—if anyone knows the parents of this child, please let them know that we want to help in any way possible. To the Achille ISD: Expect to hear from us soon.”
Many people have expressed support for the student through social media.
Although those shows of support are only virtual right now, it’s clear that the larger community is watching this situation and is ready to do whatever it takes to ensure that this student can go to school and be safe there.
Do you want to support LGBT students in your school. We’ve got some tips on how to do that.