These parents threatening to commit a hate crime on a transgender pre-teen in a Facebook group need to be arrested
As parents of school-aged children, we’ve all worried about bullying at one time or another. We probably haven’t had to worry about other parents doing it though. And we’ve probably never had to worry about fellow parents threatening to physically harm our children in a local parents group.
Sounds horrific right? Something that would never be tolerated? To the parent of an Oklahoma transgender pre-teen girl, it’s a nightmare their family is living right now. Their child is being threatened. By parents. Publicly.
It all started when she used the bathroom on her first day of seventh grade. A mother took to the local Facebook group for parents in Achille, Oklahoma to complain ABOUT A 12-YEAR-OLD GIRL USING THE BATHROOM. I feel like that really needs to be capitalized, just to emphasize how insane this whole thing is to begin with. A pre-teen can’t use a bathroom in peace?
The mother posted this message to the group:
“We have been told how the school has gone above and beyond to make sure he has his own restroom, yet he’s still using the girls.” First of all, it’s SHE. She’s using the girls’ bathroom — the one that corresponds to her gender identity. Second, excuse us if we don’t believe for a damn second this tall tale about her peeking over bathroom stalls.
“How old is this thing.”
“Hell with new laws and new rules, this is what our future is if WE don’t stop it.”
That certainly sounds like a threat to me. I know if they were talking about my child I’d be terrified.
“If he wants to be a female, make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”
One, by one, vile comments started pouring again. This would be a good time to remember this was on a local parent school Facebook resource page.
People in the community saw the post, and began sharing screenshots along with their messages of solidarity for the family who is enduring such a thing. Those who have banned together have made it very clear that they will stand up for the safety of this girl — and her right to attend her school in peace. According to local news sources, her mother has filed a restraining order against one of the men who made the online threats.
“Our ADULT neighbors in Achille, OK are threatening to assault, mutilate, and KILL a trans child for wanting to simply use the bathroom,” wrote Kodi Spangler, a comedy writer and stand-up comedian who lives about twenty miles away from Achille, in a neighboring Texas town. “I have tears streaming down my face, although I am honestly more terrified than shocked or saddened by what I read here. Imagine if someone were saying these things about your baby. Your baby whom you have supported through what will inevitably be one of the most difficult and harrowing experiences of their entire life. If you in any way side with these parents, or share their ideas and views, please delete me post haste.” Spangler shared the screenshots to her Facebook page, where they quickly began to be shared. Many have begun organizing a march to show their support.
“Within a few hours, my post had been shared hundreds of times, and several people had reached out to me with ideas about ways we could show the family our support and offer them our protection,” Spangler tells Scary Mommy. “That idea quickly gained momentum, and parties interested in participating, from other local parents to LGBTQ members of the community, to celebrities, to journalists, reached out in support… I would like to make it clear that our movement is love motivated. We do not condone any violence or acts of hate against the parents who threatened the child, or anyone else who opposes her attending school or using the bathroom of her choice. We have no intentions of protesting, rioting, or impeding on the routine of a general school day at the school. We are peaceful. Our only mission is to support and encourage this child and to ensure her protection and safety.”
In May 2016 President Obama released a guidance letter saying Title IX protects the rights of transgender students to use the bathroom and school facilities that align with their gender identity. Since we’re living in a dystopian hellscape thanks to our current administration, a spokesperson for the Department of Education has officially said they will not investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who claim they’ve been barred from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. Another way the ignorance in the current administration is emboldening bigots. These parents wouldn’t even have a leg to stand on if we stood firm on this issue from the federal level.
“The school has not issued much of a statement, other than saying they have a zero tolerance policy for bullying and that they want all students to feel safe. Sort of a generic response, in my opinion,” adds Spangler. “But, the group of supporters that we have organized are pairing with law enforcement, the school, the DA’s office, and other people in the community to try to ensure the safety of the student as she starts school this week.”
You cannot threaten a child. And in this case, these words and threats can absolutely be called hate speech. Bigots may feel emboldened right now, but they are not above the law. And while it’s hard to draw a line between free speech and hate crimes, certain threats are against the law. “It requires specificity, it requires intent and it requires a certain sense of imminence,” Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division explained in an interview with The Associated Press (regarding a different matter). These threats are not benign and should not be overlooked. Parents and children should not have to live in fear.
The Superintendent of Achille ISD has not responded to Scary Mommy’s request for comment.