An Oklahoma school has been temporarily closed after a group of parents hurled abuse at a transgender student on Facebook.
Twelve-year-old "Maddie" (not her real name) has identified as a girl since 2016. She had previously used the staff bathroom, but following renovations she struggled to find it and instead used the girls' facilities.
Through Facebook, the "Achille ISD Parent Group" discussed Maddie using the girls' toilets and quickly degenerated into violence and abuse. According to Think Progress, one member wrote: "This is terrible!! Y'all have great kids and a lil half baked maggot is causing them probs. We feel 4 y'all."
"How old is this thing?" another commenter asked. "This thing !!!! I love it," someone replied. "Got a name 4 it now. Perfect name."
The comments eventually turned to physical threats. "If he wants to be female make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick," someone wrote. "Just tell the kids to kick ass in the bathroom and it won't want to come back!!!" another person wrote.
Speaking to KXII News, Maddie's mother, Brandy Rose, said her daughter started at Achille two years ago and has only ever been known as a girl. "We had no problems when we first started," Rose said. "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."
Rose said the threats against Maddie have scared her. "These are adults making threats—I don't understand it. She's an awesome kid. To see any fear in her, I can't explain how bad that hurts me for them to hurt her."
According to News 4, Achille superintendent Rick Beene said they closed the school to avoid demonstrations. "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 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."
Despite this, a small rally was held in support of Maddie on Tuesday morning. People picketed with signs reading "Love one another", "#Love4Maddie" and "Bullying ain't OK".
Groups from across the state and beyond have gotten in touch with Maddie's family with offers of help and support.
Ari James, an LGBTQ advocate of Ardmore, told KXII TV that many youngsters who come out when they're youths struggle, with some ending up on the streets because they are not accepted for who they are. Some go on to kill themselves, James added.
"People seem to have the idea that violence, threats of violence are something that they can say and then take it back and that it doesn't carry any weight but this is very real thing," said James.
This story has been updated with details on groups offering to help the family.