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Mississippi

Parents, students look to prayer in response to Miss. transgender student

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Update, 2/28/2013: The Facebook page, “Prayers for South Panola School District” was taken down earlier today.

BATESVILLE, Miss. — Hundreds of angry parents and citizens have joined a Facebook “prayer” page after a high school student in northern Mississippi came out as transgender.

The Facebook page, “Prayers for South Panola School District” had more than 500 “likes” as of Wednesday evening, and was launched Tuesday after a student, identified only as “Leah,” began her transition by dressing according to her gender identity.

Leah
Family photo, via Mississippians Support Leah

The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi said Wednesday it is working with the South Panola High School student to ensure a smooth transition for Leah, who is in the early stages of gender transformation.

“The first step in that is really to start dressing according to your gender and today was about going to school and being able to be the person that she is,” Mississippi ACLU Legal Director, Bear Atwood told WMC-TV.

Atwood said gender transformation is a long process that begins with a person dressing in accordance with the gender in which he or she identifies. The process later includes medications and surgery.

Teachers and staff have been supportive, and while several classmates showed support for Leah by wearing green and pink, many still referred to Leah as “he.”

“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.”

Mike Foster, interim superintendent of South Panola School District, said officials will “follow what the law says” in protecting students’ constitutional rights to dress in accordance with the gender in which they identify.

But many parents from the area disagreed and are planning to protest at an upcoming school board meeting; in the meantime, opponents have created the Facebook page, “Prayers for South Panola School District,” which was set up “to form a Christian based group to pray for our school’s administration, board members, principles, teachers and students,” according to the page’s mission.

“It’s time to STEP UP and put CHRIST back in our schools where he belongs!” the page declares.

According to Deep South Progressive, page admin Ryan Moss posted that the page “isn’t for bashing a single student. It’s 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, Moss 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,” reported Deep South Progressive.

A separate Facebook page, “Mississippians Support Leah,” had more than 1,800 “likes” after being created Tuesday by Betsy Chapman, of Oxford.

“The outpouring of support from people around the world is incredibly moving, but it’s the support from Mississippians that means the most because it provides hope for those of us who want to see the state we love move forward,” Chapman said.

Atwood, the ACLU attorney, said “it’s a complex situation.”

“It’s an issue that people in Mississippi don’t understand very well. And so we’re working with the school and Leah to make sure her constitutional rights are upheld and she can go to school in a safe learning environment,” Atwood said.

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82 more reader comments:

  1. Wow..

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:30pm
  2. Bs… went through the same crap just for coming out as one :I…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:31pm
  3. She’s beautiful <3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:32pm
  4. Best of luck to her!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:34pm
  5. I live in ms. & im lesbian. not all mississippians are like that.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:35pm
  6. Brave like a Lioness!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:36pm
  7. Stay strong Leah. Be true to who you are and you are not alone.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:37pm
  8. it is none of their business and the should let her transition.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:38pm
  9. jesus chriiiist. will the hate ever end?!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:38pm
  10. :( that’s just sad that so many people are that backwards..

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:38pm
  11. I wish they would get the pronoun right. It is about respect. Hell people were calling me ‘she’ before I ever started transition. But after transition I still have people saying ‘he’. They need to think before they speak. It is respect you have for a person. If some woman gets married, no one has a problem with the name change. Think about that.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:39pm
  12. pray all you want just leave her alone with your bigotry and hate.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:42pm
  13. This person deserves our love and support. As a mom I would stand up and stand by them.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:44pm
  14. @shea lets get something straight. pronouns are part of respect but they are also part of our system of constrained gender definitions. They are as binary as the idea of handing over your name and lineage because you are a woman. I see the acknowledgement of someone’s bravery in transitioning in pronoun use but people who make mistakes aren’t monsters. Monsters are the people vilifying this child in order to justify their elitism. Lets focus on the real issue here: that no matter what we want to be called, human and worthy is first on the list.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:45pm
  15. I’m just tired…I don’t even have words to express this ridiculous non sense! A FB to pray for her & everyone who supports her? OMG… Get a life!!! Mind your own business!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:45pm
  16. Is there a pro-Leah Facebook page where we might show our support?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:50pm
  17. Are they going to pray her back a penis? Or pray to accept her as God’s child, too.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:51pm
  18. She is beautiful.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:51pm
  19. wow… stark contrast to the college students who are holding fundraisers to fund surgery for a transgendered classmate. http://bostinno.com/2013/02/26/emerson-college-frat-raises-money-for-surgery-donnie-collins/#ss__302432_270418_0__ss ….. is the difference in perceptions socioeconomic? geographical? religious ‘values’? or is it more simple? plain ol’ All American Ignorance? then again….. up unitl 2003, it was ILLEGAL TO ENGAGE in same-sex sexual relations in MISSISSIPPI …. nuff said?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:51pm
  20. She’s beautiful! She is fully welcome to move up here, and we will take care of her, and make sure she is safe, and happy and most of who she is meant to be!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:51pm
  21. Ah, it was right in front of me in the article. https://www.facebook.com/MississippiansSupportLeah

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:52pm
  22. The people who ARE PROTESTING NEED TO MIND THEIR OWN DAMN BUSINESS. It Does NOT Concern them. They ONLY make it their Business to INTERFERE with SOMEONES Life. LIKE GET A LIFE People and BACK OFF!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:53pm
  23. Hope they’re praying not to be so ignorant…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:53pm
  24. I went to their page and let them have it! I have a gay transgendered son and he is the light of my life!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:53pm
  25. I’m sharing this on my page and asking all my friends to go post on their page!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:54pm
  26. I truly try not to be prejudiced against religious people, but stuff like this makes it AWFULLY hard.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:54pm
  27. Terri whats their page name?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:57pm
  28. And these are the same idiots who cannot fathom why church attendance is low or why gay and trans people decide to quit Christianity for their own peace of mind.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:57pm
  29. Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:01pm
  30. Pray away. Disagree all you want. Just let her live her life with dignity freedom and respect

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:01pm
  31. Girl gets her rights, Christians don’t like rights, I post constitution on there pages. Rage ensues.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:02pm
  32. And that’s the point when the phrase “I’ll pray for you” becomes an offensive term. Used as an insult by “Christians” everywhere.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:05pm
  33. how about joining a “fu*k you, and let me live my own life the way I see fit” page.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:05pm
  34. Aweosme Leah! You are beautiful young lady! Best of luck!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:05pm
  35. Prayer is not going to change this student, or help this student… the situation is what it is…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:08pm
  36. I would be happy to pay for her first pistol permit when she reaches the legal age. Sorry, that’s all I could afford. Just the permit.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:08pm
  37. What the hell is that gonna do?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:10pm
  38. She is beautiful

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:11pm
  39. That facebook page is another HATE GROUP. They want to and intend to Pray away the Trans people. They want the Gays and Trans TO GO AWAY, then they use religion to make their point, except for the fact that they are going against what God has said all along Love and ACCEPTANCE!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:12pm
  40. news flash!!!!! u cannot pray the gay away…nor can u pray the transgender away….yes i know its not as catchy a saying, but….

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:13pm
  41. I been Preyed upon by christians since day one , we even got Preyed outta business in our restaurant in Georgia only a few years ago… theyre all SCHMUX!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:18pm
  42. Too many facepalms. I don’t have the stomach to read anymore of their disgusting page. Instead, just focusing on how lovely and courageous this young woman is and sending out good vibes.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:19pm
  43. People need to learn this motto quick and fast: “Live and let live.”

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:21pm
  44. Ha. I know it’s just a random image of her, but she looks like she’s 300% done with those dullards in that pic.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:24pm
  45. What will wishes to Santa do?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:27pm
  46. oh well. apparently, prayer can change your genitals back.lol

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:28pm
  47. Who are you to judge how anyone else 1. feels and 2. dresses. Get you’re heads out of your you-know-whats and give that person the respect you’d want. Parents acting in disrespect protesting about how this person feels and dresses. It is not up to you how they live/feel/dress. And you should be ashamed that you are adults who cant even set good examples for kids

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:35pm
  48. Jesus save us from your followers. If only they’d stop THUMPING their Bibles and open & READ them.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:37pm
  49. report the page for harrassment. let’s work together to get it removed from facebook. discriminating leah for being who she is… is HARRASSMENT.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:38pm
  50. ugh why do people think that just because schools dont force every child to pray a christian prayer that “god isnt in schools anymore”… i didnt realize that god needed an invitation.
    mostly…. not everyone is christian. just because someone else practices a different religion doesnt take away from anyone elses. what is with this idea that if someone does something it makes someone else less??

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:44pm
  51. God I can’t believe these people actually set up a prayer page. God bless Leah and help her on her transistion

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 8:49pm
  52. Sending good vibes and support to you from New Mexico!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 9:06pm
  53. Lead by their fear, not at all faith.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 9:19pm
  54. God is NOT in that stupidity!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 9:40pm
  55. What a buch of ignorant, hateful and fearful people. How does one girl trying to live her life in a way that makes her happy and complete do anything to hurt you?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:06pm
  56. Isn’t “God’s” place in Churches? “He” doesn’t belong in schools.
    My parents are Born Again Christians and won’t even talk about me being trans. They’d be of the same opinion as those “parents” in thinking they can ray it away. My Dad hasn’t said anything to me about it, but my Mum does and tells me how he feels. They do still love me and haven’t disowned me, or anything, but it is if they’re pretending it’s not happening and they certainly aren’t respecting me.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:08pm
  57. More rancid church people.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:39pm
  58. these southern bigots and their religion need to get a life and get out of the church and all their brainwashing….they r so un-eveolved!! it’s back to 1860!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:42pm
  59. Just who the fucks business is it anyways if this person is transgender but that person’s own fucking business. People need to stop giving a fuck about shit that has nothing to do with them. I am only 22 and I am sick of this world. The way people treat each other is just putrid. I have never seen so much disrespect and disgrace and pure filth before. I give the human race a couple hundred more years left on this earth, for we no longer deserve to walk its beautiful paths. We are all human and we are all here living the same mystery of life so worry about your own shit and leave people the fuck alone when are doing nothing to hurt you.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:47pm
  60. - If you’re really “praying for” someone then you shouldn’t be petitioning your god against their rights or their free will or their happiness. If it fails all of those three criteria, it sure as hell ain’t praying.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:54pm
  61. Because nothing says “Christian” quite like calling out a minor for something they have no control over and acting like they are a freak of nature worthy of Hellfire for all time.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 1:09am
  62. I do not agree with their actions but they have the right under our constitution and their right needs to be honored and protected the same as the students right.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:36am
  63. WTF !

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:14am
  64. They need to get over it already. Long as she isn’t bothering anyone or harming herself, what are they bitching about it for?

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:21am
  65. I’ll pray for them to start understanding that god loves ALL of his children.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:25am
  66. well what can one expect from Mississippi I am not surprised, a real shame people harbor so much hate and ignorance.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:47am
  67. why are so many americans such intolerant asses???i thought its a land of freedom???a land of free will??i always wanted to visit america, but after reading all this shit, i guess i dont wanna go anymore.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:59am
  68. one only needs to read the comments here to see the heat this produces …We need light not heat.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 6:04am
  69. Perhaps they should pray for themselves, and the hatred they carry in their hearts!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 6:29am
  70. So freaked out! It would be amusing if not for the terrifying undertones.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 6:53am
  71. To them, I say, f*ck you haters!!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 6:58am
  72. christians just need to stop. how moronic.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:07am
  73. How about this. If these supposed “christian” parents feel THAT strongly about their children attending a PUBLIC SCHOOL with a transgender student, why don’t they just pay to send their kids to a private school? Oh… can’t afford to? NOT the transgender students problem. Deal with separation of church and state and STFU. This is america. Not Iran.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:13am
  74. Liberty and Justice for ALL… no?

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:14am
  75. I’m a Christian, but I also have enough sense not to follow – like a sheep – all the people who spout chunks of the bible like parrots copying each other; I’d even hazard a bet that more than 50% of those who “pray” or use quote from the bible have never actually picked one up…

    What modern Christians need to understand is that if they want to have one tiny bit of an ancient text that has been butchered in translation to suit the still largely male-dominated religious hierarchies, then they must adhere to ALL; meaning selling their daughters into slavery, not wearing mixed fabric clothing, not working on a Sunday lest they be stoned to death, and the list goes on…

    Christianity at its core is about following the teachings of Jesus, and he promoted unconditional love & tolerance, not the bigoted transphobic & homophobic bully that I see fellow Christians committing…

    Transphobia and homophobia are crimes, and Jesus – I GUARANTEE YOU – would be the first in line to admonish and chastise the judgemental bigots of this world…

    Yes, I am a Christian; I follow Jesus Christ and his example, NOT the dogmatic, out-of-date, and shameful doctrines of “religions” as dictated by Mankind!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:14am
  76. Love the religitards that always want to shove their beliefs down everyone’s throat, like Christianity is THE only belief that’s right.
    *rolls eyes*

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:16am
  77. And they act like being transgender is wrong. We are who we are, there’s no reason to change who we are. Nobody has the right to tell us who to be and how to live our lives, or who we can love.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:17am
  78. What’s the saying?… ‘Lord save me from your followers.’

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:19am
  79. Oh how I wish this was an Onion article…….

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:19am
  80. There are Christians then there are Xstains. The problem is that most Christians are way quieter than Xstains. Kinda like decent Muslims v. terrorist crazy-ass Muslims.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:19am
  81. It is so scary how this kind of people always involve God and the Christ in their minds, with their own fears and phobias! This is so sad because all the ignorance that still exist in the people who claim to love God! Yeah, let’s pray so these assholes phobics can see the real love of God and the real Jesus Christ who they claim to believe. The only thing I see is superstitious people. Shame on them! An do never forget the world will know for your love and actions!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:29am
  82. It is so scary how this kind of people always involve God and the Christ in their minds, with their own fears and phobias! This is so sad because all the ignorance that still exist in the people who claim to love God! Yeah, let’s pray so these assholes phobics can see the real love of God and the real Jesus Christ who they claim to believe. The only thing I see is superstitious people. Shame on them! And do never forget the world will believe for your love and actions!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:31am