Angry Parents Mobilize Against Transgender Student in MS With "Prayers for South Panola School District"

Hundreds of angry parents and citizens have joined a Facebook “prayer” page after a high school student in North Mississippi came out as transgender. As of this writing, the “Prayers for South Panola School District” Facebook page had over 380 likes.

With the support of the Mississippi ACLU, a student who is only being identified as “Leah” took the first steps Monday toward beginning her transition by dressing according to her gender,  Mississippi ACLU Director Bear Atwood told WBTV News.

Teachers and staff were supportive, and fellow classmates even showed support for Leah by wearing green and pink.

“He’s like any other student at South Panola, he minds his business, he’s not hurting anyone,” classmate Jabrea Joiner said. “He’s only wanting to be himself.”

Joiner added, “I know there was a lot going on, people had a lot to say in the classroom, but I just feel like it’s not my position to judge anyone.”

Unfortunately, many parents and adults from the area felt it was indeed their position to judge. Many are planning to protest and complain at the upcoming school board meeting. The “Prayers for South Panola School District” page was launched Tuesday morning. Its description was as follows:

“This page is set up to form a Christian based group to pray for our school’s administration, board members, principles, teachers and students. It’s time to STEP UP and put CHRIST back in our schools where he belongs!”

Apparently, part of “putting Christ back in our schools” includes ascribing to Jesus the role of “Bully in Chief.” Why else would a bunch of adults create and use a page to, in the name of Christian values, target a single high school student for harassment and blame that student for the downfall of moral, godly society?

Ryan Moss posted and explained:

“This page isnt for bashing a single student. its for the people who have strong belief in the Lord and what he does for us that created this page. the incident that happened yesterday was just an example of not only the governments power but the power of satan.”

When asked what the “incident” was (since Ryan claimed the page wasn’t for bashing a single student), Ryan responded that the incident was about “The cross dressing student who has not yet become a transgender person being in schools with other parents kids.”

Judy Jones Smith, in a separate post on the page, explained, “I am not heartless, but just because he ‘feels’ like a girl, doesn’t make him a girl. I believe God still sees him as a young man and God loves him, and I do too, but I do not have to like his lifestyle…”

To Judy and others who think like Judy, I say this: Just because you “feel” like you’re being “loving” and just because you feel like you’re being “Christian” doesn’t make you loving nor does it make you Christian. Not when your actions so obviously portray otherwise.

You can show your support for Leah by joining the much more loving, much more Christian page, Mississippians Support Leah.

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Ashton Pittman

Ashton is the founder and editor of Deep South Progressive. He studies political science and journalism at the University of Southern Mississippi. Follow him on Twitter @ashtonpittman.

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45 Comments

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Jennie's Musings

    Prayers should always be for uplifting another. Not for this.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Anonymous

    “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an ABOMINATION to the Lord thy God” – Deuteronomy 22:5

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Anonymous

      It’s a good thing our schools are supposed to be secular, then! Separation of Church and State! Stop shoving your beliefs down other people’s throats!

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Anonymous

      Eating shrimp is also an abomination.

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Anonymous

      Name one person from the bible that didn’t wear a dress.

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Anonymous

      Are you mentally challenged? Or maybe a little drunk, Anon 1:24?

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Anonymous

      according to Deuteronomy wearing mixed fiber clothing is an “abomination” which doesn’t even mean its bad. Abomination within the context of the ancient Hebrew language means not of the Hebrew people. False witness is a far greater sin than and anyone who misinterprets scripture for evil purposes is guilty of that.

      “there is neither Jew nor gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, we are all one in Christ Jesus” Galatians 3:28

      Get your head out of your ass, the ancient Hebrews didnt understand the endocrine system. We do

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Sisi

      Oh Look, I can quote scripture also..”beloved,let us love one another,for love is of God,and everyone who loveth,is born of God,and knoweth God..he that loveth not,knoweth not God,for God is LOVE.” Sorry,Anonymous,but you don’t seem to be a very loving christian.

    • Reply March 1, 2013

      Anonymous

      Why do people allow their lives to be governed by what’s it a book – ANY book? Try following your own moral compass instead of what someone told you you should believe. God gave you a brain for a reason, use it!!

    • Reply April 4, 2013

      Anonymous

      Good thing we’re talking about a woman then… maybe you forgot that woman refers to a gender, and female refers to the sex?

      Outdated book is outdated, and if you’re trying to make it modern you’re doing it wrong.

    • Reply May 11, 2013

      Anonymous

      You can quote Harry Potter for all I care. When you have evidence that
      1) That is the actual law of a deity
      2) That said deity exist
      Than we can talk. Until then you are still a bigot who hides behind superstitions.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Logan England

    Anonymous, it’s a good thing Leah is a girl then, isn’t it?

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Anonymous

    Isn’t this the same state that, just this month, abolished slavery? I wouldn’t expect them to be accepting of transgendered people anytime soon. They are probably still skeptical of this new fad called electricity.

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Anonymous

      Bashing Mississippi doesn’t help Leah in any way and isn’t constructive. Yes, there are alot of problems in the state, but look at the fact that the article states the school and several students supported her.

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Anonymous

      But not Acknowledging the problems wont be very constructive either. And Mississippi has a History of not working towards change..

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Anonymous

      There are LOTS if Mississippians, like me, who are working hard towards change EVERY DAY.

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Anonymous

      “To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.” – William Faulkner.

      I agree that bashing Mississippi doesn’t help Leah in any way and only perpetuates this sense of hatred. If you have never lived in a place like this, you will never understand it. And no one denies that this state has a hateful and destructive past, but the fact is that there are many Mississippians working for progress every single day. We have a Pride Run 5k supporting the LGBTQ community in the capitol city this weekend, actually. There are students, a new generation, coming together to support Leah against hatred. It is such a beautiful thing that they can come together like that. And THAT is what everyone should be focusing on. Don’t let the hatred of a few taint the progress that so many are working for. We know that they’re wrong.

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Anonymous

      Last time I checked, I have electricity. Hm. Then again, last time I checked slavery has been abolished for quite some time now and my former roommate was transgender. I suppose that none of that happened as I am from Mississippi. Weird.

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Ashley

      Maybe I need to get home and check my electricity. I sure thought I had it earlier today. You take stupid to a whole new level. Stop blaming thousands for the stupidity of hundreds. I am from Mississippi and still live here get your facts straight.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Anonymous

      It is amazing how no matter who you are, what your views are, how supportive you are, how progressive you are, what you do to try and bring about change, what websites you run, how educated you are, etc. if you are from Mississippi, people will always find a way to stereotype you as an intolerant, uneducated, homophobic racist. The misconception the rest of the United States has that Mississippi is nothing but backwoods hicks is holding Mississippi back almost as bad as those Mississippians who continue to spread hate and intolerance. I am so glad this website exists allowing it to become much more apparent that there actually are other open-minded people in my home state as well as the rest of the South. Contrary to popular belief, MISSISSIPPI SUPPORTS LEAH!

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    sundaysue

    Gender is not always straight forward physically. Therefore,IMO, it follows that it is not always straight forward mentally/emotionally. Until we start treating each other with love, kindness and respect, we are doomed as a nation.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Christina Normand

    How exactly doe it harm other children to be in the same school with people who don’t dress the way other kids parents think they should?
    Leah is a girl. The fact that she happened to be born with a boy’s body is an error of genetics.

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      Anonymous

      God doesn’t make errors. He willed her to be born as a girl with a willy.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Anonymous

      No, Leah is genetically a boy who identifies as a girl.

      Which is fine.

      Sex is black and white.
      Gender is a million different shades of grey.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      liminalia

      Sex isn’t black and white either. Do some research on intersex people. Sex is also a million shades of gray.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Dr. Milton Byrd

    Love, kindness and respect was and should still be the christian message. It appears that bearing false witness is becoming the standard of practice for christian fanaticism and thus Christianity is being destroyed from within… just like our government. Christian values have become dysfunctional due to the manipulative voices of abuse.
    The old adage (“What would Jesus do?) was a way of remembering love, kindness and respect. Maybe it is time for Jesus to come back and teach humanity once again, how to be in divine service…

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Anonymous

    How can the prayer site use the school district’s logo? Is anyone investigating this?

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Briarpatch

    I am so delighted to see all these wonderful responses to the quote from Deuteronomy. Yay! As a graduate of South Panola I wish my classmates would open their minds to see that loving others is the first requirement of the teachings of Christ Jesus. Don’t teach your children to hate and call it God’s work.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Anonymous

    My understanding is that Prayers for South Panola School District was created because the ALCU made the School District as of Monday to take down anything that referenced God, religion or prayer. They also made it where teachers could no longer mention God or prayer in talking or in a email. It just so happened that this occurred the same day as the transgender student issue came up.

    This is not about the transgender. I do feel that the transgender student situation does need our prayers. Prayers for the School, the teachers, the students, the parents, and the community. Change and acceptance is hard. I personally don’t feel that the school district should have to accommodate for a transgender student. If a transgender wants to be treated fairly and equal, then there should be no special provisions.

    • Reply February 27, 2013

      CramerNH

      Justified were the ACLU in making the School District take everything down that has to do with God, Religion and Prayer. Rightfully so, they did this under the Separation of Church and State.

      The school MUST comply with a student who is beginning the process of a gender reassignment: which includes the person/patient having to live the life of the opposite gender for a duration of time. It is fully recognized in the medical community and as such, must be equally accomodated.

      My youngest patient was 9, just as the preliminary stages of puberty was due to set in, was born male externally, but female INTERNALLY. The child was granted the ability to decide which gender he wanted to assume – but that decision had to be made before the age of 10 due to puberty coming around the corner. Past history showed he had great difficulty sociologically, psychologically and also medically as his body began to change and also complicate itself due to the internal female anatomy confliction. Both the parents and the child opted for gender reassignment.

      For one year, he lived the life of a girl. For the safety of the patient, the parents moved to a different district and had ‘her’ enrolled immediately. The school, the guidance counselors, the school nurse were all very much aware that this child was transitioning. The school made sure that this child had the same rights as any student-medical patient for reasonable accomodations.

      The staff let ‘her’ use their bathroom to change for gym. Until the surgery happened, they still had to make sure that her right to confidentiality was maintained – just like all other students as well – as outlined in HIPAA.

      She underwent surgery right after leaving fifth grade. By sixth grade, she was attending Junior High, officially as a girl. She was due to have additional minor procedures as she grew, and of course required to see the nurse for any prescriptions that she needed to take during school time, but she did quite well.

      Sorry but, from a healthcare perspective, the school is required to make accomodations as this is a true medical situation. Failure to do so would be met with a significant legal case against the school, the district, and the staff who did not make/meet the accomodations to happen.

      In closing, Im Atheist… and as far as Im concerned, you dont need religion to teach you good common sense. It truly is good common sense to be kind to one another, treat them with respect, be understanding, etc. Leah has a long way to go but she is in the right place for sure!

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Anonymous

      Oh, thank you so much for this post! I wish more people would read it and realize that Leah is not simply “making a choice”. It’s great to hear from someone in the medical field. Again, thank you!

    • Reply April 4, 2013

      Anonymous

      “My understanding is that Prayers for South Panola School District was created because the ALCU made the School District as of Monday to take down anything that referenced God, religion or prayer. They also made it where teachers could no longer mention God or prayer in talking or in a email. It just so happened that this occurred the same day as the transgender student issue came up.”

      Yup, because in representing the US government you cannot act as though any religion is correct or credible. That’s kinda the point.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Anonymous

    For anyone who is interested, there’s actually a 5K Pride Walk happening this Saturday at the Capitol in Jackson. This walk is being held by the LGBTQ Organization and the Amnesty International group from Millsaps College. The Pride Run 5K is a friendly event open to the public to promote health and raise awareness about LGBTQ rights in the state of Mississippi. Here’s a link to the Facebook page:

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/406228566138880/

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    jr1271

    Why is that somebody else’s business and life is affecting so many people that don’t even know them? What is this child doing that DIRECTLY affects YOUR life and YOUR business, South Panola parents?

    This is the real problem: You see something you don’t like, you coat it in religious epithets, and now everybody sees it as okay to slander and rabble rouse. Fundamentalists in this state have to realize not everybody subscribes to the same beliefs. But there’s so much religious stigma, especially in the Delta area where Baitesville/South Panola is located, that nobody wants be the only person not rallying because they don’t wanna be targeted next.

    What’s more silly is the fact that Jesus would not rally against this. He wouldn’t start a Facebook page where people could post hateful comments. He wouldn’t insist somebody be this way instead of that. He would accept it and say He loves the child.

    Stop pushing your brand of religion on other people. And stop using religion to bash and spread hate.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Anonymous

      well said ~ thanks so much for posting!!

  • Reply February 28, 2013

    DeBunker

    “This page is set up to form a Christian based group to pray for our school’s administration, board members, principles, teachers and students. It’s time to STEP UP and put CHRIST back in our schools where he belongs!” Anybody who would make that kind of idiotic statement should not be taken seriously.

  • Reply February 28, 2013

    Anonymous

    The Teachers and Staff have to be supportive due to being fired if not cooperative.

  • Reply February 28, 2013

    Terri

    The Facebook page, “Prayers for South Panola School District” was taken down earlier today. Yay!!!

  • Reply March 1, 2013

    Anonymous

    I think it’s funny how people say, “stop shoving your Christian values down our throat ” yet isn’t that what leah is doing? LGBT think we have to accept whatever they feel or want to do. Yet if a Christian has an opinion we are haters. Christians have every right to be as vocal and opinionated as the LGBT. And in my opinion the LGBT followers say far.more worse about Christians than what Christians may say. I’m sick of being called a hater bc I may not agree with what a person wants to do. Why should my children be subjected to whatever an LGBT wants yet if my child wanted to wear the 10 commandments around his.neck their would surely.be an outcry. Hypocrite

    • Reply April 4, 2013

      Anonymous

      Because you don’t seem to understand that you don’t get to have a say in what they do. Secular values must be vetted: They have to be beneficial to the society, and thus are acceptable for everyone. Guess what? You have no justification for your opinion, and thus, if you take action on that opinion, you are in the wrong.

      And no, if your kid wanted to, he would probably be immune from most criticisms, because there’s still tons of people wearing crosses. If the *school* wanted to do it, they’d be rightly punished, because the church has no place in our government (which includes our schools, as federal property). Your persecution complex is showing.

  • Reply March 2, 2013

    EmmittBrownBTTF1

    Is that South Panola School District or South Paranoia School District.

  • Reply April 4, 2013

    Anonymous

    “I am not heartless, but just because he ‘feels’ like a girl, doesn’t make him a girl. “

    Uh… yes it does, you fucking idiot. It might not make him a female, but the fact that you conflate the two means you’re obviously at least three decades behind in psychological knowledge, and probably a century or so behind in sexual health.

    Go fuck yourself, you ignorant sod.

  • […] that parallels that of gays and lesbians decades ago. Earlier this year, hundreds organized a Facebook “prayer” page in response to a high school student in North Mississippi coming out as transgender. Additionally, […]

  • […] that parallels that of gays and lesbians decades ago. Earlier this year, hundreds organized a Facebook “prayer” page in response to a high school student in North Mississippi coming out as transgender. Additionally, […]

  • […] that parallels that of gays and lesbians decades ago. Earlier this year, hundreds organized a Facebook “prayer” page in response to a high school student in North Mississippi coming out as transgender. Additionally, […]

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