ACHILLE, Okla. – An Oklahoma community is coming together to support a seventh grader who has been the target of online threats.
Earlier this week, schools in Achille were forced to close their doors amid controversial and threatening comments about a transgender middle school student.
The child’s mother told KXII that this has never been a problem until now.
“She’s been living as female for years– she started at Achille as Maddie,” Rose said. “We had no problems when we first started.”
She says her daughter has always used the staff bathroom, but she didn’t know where it was on the first day of school.
“She hadn’t been told where the staff bathroom was. Before she was able to be told, she had to pee, so she used the girls bathroom one single time,” she said.
A parent found out and posted to a private Facebook group.
The comments quickly got out of hand, with a person commenting, “If he wants to be a female, make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”
Achille superintendent Rick Beene said they were asked to close schools for part of the week, citing the possibility of demonstrations.
“The thought was, for law enforcement, that you can have an opposing group that might be here and that could lead to problems so law enforcement asked me if we could shut down until Wednesday so they didn’t have to worry about those 360 kids in addition to what they were already having to deal with,” Beene said. “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 the group ‘Achille ISD Parent Group’ is not an official page tied to their school. In fact, he said most of the people participating in the conversation are not parents of any students.
“Our kids, our parents, most of our community is very, very good people… very open to all ethnicities, all populations and, really, we’ve got a group of kids that love each other,” he said. “We know of no bullying as far as this one situation is concerned.”
Following news of the threats, dozens of people participated in a silent protest in support of the seventh grader.
Bryan County Sheriff Johnny Christian said they are working with several agencies, including the FBI, to see if any comments constitute a hate crime. He said many of the comments were from people who didn't even live in the county.