In the Face of Oklahoma Threats, We’ll Continue Fighting to #ProtectTransStudentsBy James Gherardi • August 16, 2018 • 1:45 pm
When a student enters a school building, their safety should never be a concern. What played out however on the first day of middle school in Achille, Oklahoma, for one student, was terrifying.
A 12-year-old student used the bathroom on her first day back, as she had for two years, in the same district. But because the girl was transgender and had used the girls restroom, a group of parents took to Facebook to share their horrific, vile and violent opinions. Their comments, published on the Achille parents Facebook group, forced the district to close the school for two days this week out of fear for the young girl’s safety.
An initial post, announcing to the group that the girl had used the restroom went like this: [EDITOR’S NOTE: POTENTIAL TRIGGERING LANGUAGE BELOW]
“Heads up parents of 5th thru 7th grade girls,” wrote, 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.”
From there, comments were posted calling for violence towards the little girl. One man even writing: “If he wants to be a female make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”
Let’s be clear, these are adults, parents of children, calling for a violent attack on a 12-year-old child. The child’s mother had this to say to a local television news station about the verbal assaults being made on her daughter: “These are adults making threats to a child. I don’t understand it. 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.”
Sadly, this is the fear so many transgender youth live with every day in schools across the United States. A national survey by GLSEN found that 75% of transgender youth felt unsafe at school. Those trans students who decided to potentially forgo their safety and stay enrolled, had significantly lower GPAs, were more likely to miss school out of concern for their safety, and were less likely to plan on continuing their education. Is this really the environment we want to foster for our children? Is this the public school system we want to teach and nurture our children? One that makes only some of the youngest among us feel safe, welcomed and loved?
These attacks on trans youth in public schools are happening as the Trump Administration rolls back imperative protections for trans students. An Obama era directive was rescinded last year that said all transgender students have the right to use the restroom at their public school that matches their gender identity. Additionally, the Education Department has announced they will no longer investigate civil rights complaints from trans students fighting for bathroom access. These protections were critical and necessary components to fostering a safe and welcoming environment for all students.
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