A school shut down after threats to a trans student. Now people are racing to support her.

A school in Oklahoma is shut down for two days after threats were made against a 12-year-old student.

Achille School is not normally in the news. After all, the small town is only home to around 500 people.

That changed after reports that some parents have allegedly made threats against a 7th grade student named “Maddie” that included references to assault with a knife and encouraging other students to physically assault her.


Maddie is a transgender girl. When she moved to Achille school, a student complained about her using the girls restroom. To avoid any confusion, her mom says she has been using a school staff restroom for the past two years.

However, the school recently moved buildings and it was the first day back in class after summer break. After a miscommunication (no one had told her where the new stuff restroom was located) Maddie used a girls restroom a single time.

Unsurprisingly, nothing bad happened. There was no “incident.”

However, after word got out, some parents on a Facebook message board for the school began making threats against the young girl. The threats escalated to the point where the FBI is investigating the response as a potential hate crime.

And the school itself is shut down until Wednesday.

What happened is awful. But now people are racing to support Maddie and her family.

Maddie's mom gives an interview/KXII

The anonymous bullies just ran into a wall of very real people supporting Maddie.

Anyone can be a bully and a coward anonymously online. Standing up for what’s right takes courage. And some of that courage is rapidly coming out to help support Maddie in the face of hate.

"She's an awesome kid,” her mother Brandy Rose said in an interview. “To see any fear in her,I can't explain how bad that hurts me for them to hurt her."

The local chapter of “Free Mom Hugs” and the Oklahoma City chapter of PFLAG have posted letters of support for Maddie. The Free Mom Hugs letter reads in part, "The time is now to say enough is enough. And we will help you."

Meanwhile, district superintendent Rick Beene is making it clear the shut down is unfortunate but part of an effort to protect Maddie against any threats. “Achille school believes that everybody should receive a free and safe education," he said.

Amber Briggle who is a mother to a young transgender student who was thrust into the national headlines voiced her support for Maddie as well, saying, “I just want them to know that they're not alone and it's super scary. But there's a lot more support out there than there are bullies."

Free Mom Hugs/Facebook

It’s terrible this happened. But how the community and country responds could make a positive change.

Photo by Derek R. Henkle/Getty Images.

Like any other child, Maddie should be free to learn, grow and just exist without having to live in fear of violence of discrimination from adults in her community.

It’s horrifying to see parents reduced to the level of threatening a child.

But it’s also important to recognize how people are bravely rising up to defend Maddie as well.

Other courageous individuals, like the state’s first open transgender police officer, are using the moment to speak up about trans rights and the larger, still ongoing fight for true LGBTQ equlity.

Keeping Maddie safe is the first priority. But it’s everything that happens next where we can all make a real difference.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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