ACHILLE, Okla. — Schools in a small Oklahoma town will remain closed Tuesday amid controversial social comments made about a transgender middle school student.
The comments were posted by adults on a parents’ page, 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 superintedent 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.”
Other comments made include “Why are parents letting their kids be transgender?”
It did not take long for organizations outside of Achille to jump to the student’s defense, such as Sara Cunningham, founder of the Oklahoma City-based group 'Free Mom Hugs.'
“My heart just sank when I realized what was happening,” Cunningham told News 4. “But, I can say that, if one thing, one positive thing came out of that post is the exposure of the power of fear and ignorance, and I mean that term respectfully but that is a perfect example to the world of what fear and ignorance can do.”
Cunningham has sent an open letter in light of the situation, offering support and resources such as LGBTQ sensitivity training.
"We have a beautiful, vibrant transgender community here in Oklahoma City... what would it look like if we brought in a transgender individual and sat at a table with the principal there and just simply shared our stories?" she said.
Beene said they are open to new resources for training.
"I need education; we all need to be educated. It’s certainly something that people didn’t deal with 20, 30 years ago," he told News 4.
Beene said he does not anticipate schools to be closed beyond Tuesday.