Schools in Achille, Oklahoma will be closed until Wednesday following an outpouring of threats against a 12-year-old transgender girl.
Maddie — the student being threatened — used the girls’ bathroom on the first day of seventh grade. This prompted a firestorm on social media from enraged parents who threatened to maim the child.
Maddie has identified as a girl since fifth grade and usually uses the staff restroom. But after Maddie used the girls’ facilities, it was reported to a parents’ Facebook group and received chilling responses.
“If he wants to be a female make him a female,” wrote Eddie Belcher. “A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”
The young girl was also misgendered, called “the transgender” or “it” by adults, and other students were advised to beat her up until she refused to attend school.
Another parent, Waylon Lott, compared Maddie’s case to an LBGT staff member at the school, saying: “I let the queer teacher get me worked up! This is even worse! Lol.”
“That’s a threat against her life – that’s scary,” said Brandy, Maddie’s mother. “These are adults making threats – I don’t understand it.”
Brandy explained that Maddie used the girls’ restroom only once, before being told where the staff restroom was. Brandy and Maddie are also not sleeping at their home, out of fear for Maddie’s safety.
Police advised the Achille superintendent to close schools Monday and Tuesday as a precaution.
The horror of Maddie’s situation in Oklahoma likely comes to deaf ears at the Department of Education. Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Department has rolled back protections for transgender students and refuses to hear complaints regarding access to bathrooms from transgender youth.
Despite a ruling that Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, also prohibits gender identity discrimination, DeVos stood by her decision to interpret Title IX as excluding transgender individuals.
DeVos’ lack of support for transgender students now falls on Maddie’s shoulders.
“She’s an awesome kid,” said Brandy. “To see any fear in her – I can’t explain how bad that hurts me.”
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.