An Oklahoma public school dismissed classes Monday and Tuesday following declarations of "hunting season" on a transgender student. In response, a silent demonstration was held in support of the student Tuesday morning.
Maddie, a 12-year-old transgender student in the Achille Independent School District, moved to the town with her mother, Brandy Rose, when she was in the fifth grade and had been using a staff bathroom in elementary school.
"She's been living as female for years -- she started at Achille as Maddie," Rose told local TV station KXII. "We had no problems when we first started."
When Maddie first attended the middle school, she could not locate the staff bathroom, so she used the women's restroom once.
Local resident Jamie Crenshaw found out about it and posted in a Facebook group, the Achille ISD Parent Group, to complain. Crenshaw brought up a false accusation against Maddie for "looking over the stalls in the girls bathroom" when she first transferred to Achille.
Group members said they wanted to lobby against her at school board meetings, and some called Maddie a "thing," "it," and "maggot" and made violent threats against her.
"If he wants to be female, make him female," one group member wrote. "A good sharp knife will do the trick."
"Just tell the kids to kick ass in the bathroom and it won't want to come back," wrote another member. Another said it was hunting season on transgender students.
Rose said the posts made Maddie afraid for her life.
"That's a threat against her life -- that's scary," Rose said. "These are adults making threats -- I don't understand it."
Posts were taken down and the group was deleted, but screenshots were archived on Hatetrackers.online and circulated, drawing the attention of LGBTQ advocates.
Rick Beene, superintendent of Achille schools, took the Bryan County sheriff's advice to close the school temporarily, citing possible demonstrations when he spoke to Oklahoma City TV station KFOR. Beene said the Achille ISD Parent Group is not affiliated with the school, and that most of the Facebook users posting about the transgender student are not parents of any of the school's 360 students. Only Jamie Crenshaw lives in the district.
"The problem is, 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," Beene said.
Maddie's family filed a restraining order Friday against Facebook group member Burney Crenshaw, who had been tagged in Jamie Crenshaw's post, and Beene hired an extra resource officer, reports Oklahoma City's KWTV. Beene told another Oklahoma City TV station, KOCO, that the school had been "preparing for the worst."
LGBTQ advocates came to Maddie's side, with PLFAG Oklahoma City tweeting, "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."
Sara Cunningham, executive director of Free Mom Hugs, posted an open letter to Facebook offering to connect the Achille district with mental health professionals and provide resources for "LGBT sensitivity training among [the] board, staff, and/or student body."
In addition to the silent demonstration this morning, #Love4Maddie, a new hashtag started by Twitter user @kkpink the hashtag, made the rounds, with various Twitter users expressing support for the transgender student.