For the past two years, Brandy Rose’s 12-year-old transgender daughter had been able to use the staff restroom at her school in Achille, Okla. But last week, the preteen was embarking on a new adventure: middle school.
The building, which recently reopened in the small town in the southern edge of the state, was unfamiliar to the girl. She didn’t know where the staff bathroom was, so “she used the girls bathroom,” Rose told local television station KXII, "one single time.”
A parent in the district somehow found out, and posted an angry message on a Facebook group for fellow parents of Achille students.
“Heads up parents of 5th thru 7th grade girls,” the woman, Jamie Crenshaw, posted in Achille ISD Parents Group. “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.
“We have made school board meetings over this situation last year but nothing seems to be changing,” the post continued. “This is the same kid that got an [sic] trouble as soon as he transferred two years ago for looking over the stalls in the girls bathroom. Enough is enough.”
The post has since been deleted, but the group reposted an image of it for the sake of transparency.
Other images of comments, from adults outside of the district, also emerged on Facebook about the preteen girl. Some of them dehumanized her, calling her “this thing” and a “half baked maggot.”
Others made disturbing threats of violence:
“If he wants to be a female make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”
“Just tell the kids to kick a– in the bathroom and it won’t want to come back!!”
Only the person who wrote the initial Facebook post was a parent who actually lives in the district, Rick Beene, the superintendent of Achille Public Schools, told KFOR. The other messages came from parents living in other parts of Oklahoma and Texas. Beene said he has received more than 300 emails about the incident and stressed that the school district aims to be accepting of “all populations.”
Images of the posts circulated widely on Facebook, drawing outrage from transgender advocates. After activists began writing to the superintendent and organizing a protest at the school, the district announced it would be canceling all classes on Monday and Tuesday of this week.
Beene said that law enforcement officials urged him to cancel classes due to the potential for demonstrations on the campus, which is attended by about 360 students.
“The thought was, for law enforcement, that you can have an opposing group that might be here and that could lead to problems,” Beene said. “When you get into a small town, you don’t have to get a permit to demonstrate, therefore the problem with that is you don’t know who’s showing up, you don’t know what time they’re going to show up or anything like that.”
The girl’s family also filed for a protective order in Bryan County court on Friday against a person with the same surname as one of the parents who attacked the girl on Facebook, according to the Oklahoman.
Rose, the transgender girl’s mother, told KXII the messages were “scary.”
“These are adults making threats to a child. I don’t understand it,” Rose said. “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.”
The incident comes as the Trump administration has rolled back federal guidelines protecting transgender students. Last year, the administration rescinded an Obama-era directive that said transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity. The Education Department has also stopped investigating civil rights complaints from transgender students fighting for bathroom access.
LGBTQ advocacy groups, including the Oklahoma City chapter of PFLAG, have rallied around the transgender girl, condemning the attacks against her.