What happens when a little girl writes an essay about LGBTQ+ equality?

I’m sure many of you remember this story about a ten year old fourth grader at Anderson Mills Elementary school. She was assigned an essay on any topic addressed “to society”. Having a family member who is gay and being the wonderful ally she is, she chose to write about LGBTQ+ equality. What followed was utterly disappointing and damaging.

In a harsh move, the school decided to reject her essay and asked her to rewrite the piece as a bullying piece. Let’s face it though, it already was about bullying. The new essay was virtually the same paper, without all of the “gay” references and was accepted. Which only proved that the entire problem was the shear mention of the LGBTQ+ community.

The family has since filed a law suit in hopes of shining a light on this problem and keeping it from happening to another child. As a result this brave girl has been the victim of bullying at school and her family has received hateful messages on social media.

What kind of message is Anderson Mills Elementary sending to it’s students?

Not only is this emotionally damaging to this child, but it sends a terrible message to all the other children attending Anderson Mills Elementary. What this teacher, principal and superintendent are telling kids who may be identifying as LGBTQ+ is that they are not to be spoken of or be allowed to share the same space as the other kids. They are teaching every child in that school that it’s okay to turn your back on and bully another human being into submission. These adults are tasked with teaching our children leadership and responsibility through example. I, for one, am horribly disappointed in and angry with these “leaders”.

School should be a place where a child can feel safe expressing their opinions and exploring the opinions of others with an open mind. These years should be years spent expanding their minds and their hearts. Learning empathy and thoughtfulness alongside their academic studies. How can we expect to raise leaders when we are crushing these children with our own bigotry and shortsightedness? Where will this lead them as adults? Surely not down a road to growth and progress.

And to all of the people who are reaching out for the sole purpose of damaging this family and this ten year old child, shame on you. We all deserve the space we share on Earth. Every single child in that school and in every school deserves to be loved and cared for. Would you turn your back on your own child if they write this paper or identified as something other than “straight”? I honestly wonder what kid of people do these things to kids.

What you can do to help this family.

PFLAG Spartanburg is organizing a letter writing campaign for this brave kid and we invite you all to join us. Her favorite color is purple *wink*. Write a letter, draw a picture, or send a card with an uplifting, encouraging message and send it to:

PFLAG Spartanburg
c/o RRS
P.O. Box 7056
Spartanburg, SC 29304

Let’s show Anderson Mills Elementary, South Carolina and the whole world that we stand with love and acceptance. Show RRS that there are still people who love her and believe in what she’s doing. She needs to know that she’s not alone and that what she’s doing is worth it. I hope you will all write a little note. My daughter went out today and got a little purple gift and we’ll be making our own card to send her this weekend.

Share this info with your social circles and help us lift RRS up! #justiceforrrs


*The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and not necessarily PFLAG National or Spartanburg Chapter.