The trouble began when 12-year-old Maddie, a transgender student at Achille, Oklahoma Public Schools, used the girls' restroom on the first day of school on Wednesday, August 8--her first day of seventh grade.
Maddie had attended school at Achille since fifth grade and used the staff bathroom for two years. On her first day of seventh grade, though, she didn't know where the staff bathroom was, so went to the girls' bathroom.
Maddie and her family moved to Achille, Oklahoma from Sherman, Texas, after Maddie was bullied in Texas.
Says mother Brandy, "We actually moved here from Sherman hoping to have a fresh start for Maddie, because she was severely bullied there, and taunted to commit suicide, and assaulted in the bathroom. Unfortunately, her fresh start did not last long."
Maddie's 'fresh start' in Achille was more than unfortunate--it grew dangerous when a local parent, Jamie Crenshaw, notified the private Facebook group 'Achille ISD Parents Group' that Maddie had used the girls' bathroom that day, posting, "Heads up parents of 5th thru 7th grade girls. The transgender is already using the girls bathroom," concluding, "Enough is enough."
More appalling messages followed by other parents of students being educated in the Achille, Oklahoma Independent School District (ISD). Ty Hays wrote, "This is terrible!! Y'all have great kids and a lil half baked maggot is causing them probs. We feel 4 y'all." Another dad, Eddie Belcher, encouraged castration, writing, "If he wants to be a female make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick."
Yet another parent, Kevin Bickerstaff, encouraged physical violence with, "Just tell the kids to kick ass in the bathroom and it won't want to come back!!" Dad Seth Cooper suggested that Crenshaw's son, Parker, should "whip his ass until he quits coming to school."
Once this abuse was made public through screenshots posted on the school district's official Facebook page, Maddie's mother filed a restraining order against Burney Crenshaw, Jamie's husband, on August 10. Burney Crenshaw was identified as a ringleader among the adult bullies.
Now Maddie and her family are faced with another difficult and dangerous year in yet another school district. As Maddie's story has gone out via the news and social media, many have reached out to Maddie and her family. Mom Brandy, family spokesperson, has been inundated with interview requests and gestures of kindness and good will from all over the world.
One of the many messages Brandy received was from me, a total stranger until today. I read about Maddie's situation on Twitter
the evening of August 14 and posted about it publicly on Facebook after reading several articles.
Support for Maddie and her family was so immediate and so encouraging that I mused, "I'd bet that if someone started a Go Fund Me campaign for this family, they'd be out of Achille, Oklahoma in 30 days." To this, my neighbor and friend Karri responded, "You should start one!"
And so I did. After a bit of searching, I made contact with Maddie's mom, Brandy, and proposed a Go Fund Me campaign for the family if moving was an option for them. To my amazement, Brandy replied that moving
"... would be such an amazing blessing to be honest. We have family in Houston that have been wanting us to move to them for years, but it has just never been a financial possibility. We actually tried a few years ago, but it all just fell apart, and was a mess. If we had the financial means to actually move, and get set up there, close to our family, and in a city that has so many more resources for Maddie, it would literally be life changing!"
Brandy expressed her concern for others, continuing, "I don't know if a go fund me is asking too much, but I think it wouldn't hurt to try, if you would be willing to do that for her, we would be forever grateful!"Friends far and near, will you help me raise the funds to help Maddie's family relocate to a larger, more diverse, and more accepting area where they already have welcoming relatives?
Will you join me in showing Maddie and her family that most of us are NOT like the parents who posted so negatively in the Achille, Oklahoma ISD Facebook group?
I estimated the cost of moving to Houston for this family with several children, tallying first and last months' rent, utilities deposits, and a financial 'cushion' until both parents find work and the kids are settled in new schools. I hope that by working together, we can also fund several months' worth of supportive counseling for Maddie, who has herself become quite an advocate and has raised money for suicide awareness and prevention.
To close with Brandy's words, "Thank you so unbelievably much for your support, and reaching out to my family!"
Let's do this, folks!
_____________________________________________________________________________THE ACHILLE, OKLAHOMA PARENT GROUP FACEBOOK POSTS