Transgender teen mentioned in Ashford group chat scandal speaks out

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ASHFORD, Ala. (WDHN) — Explicit text messages between several Ashford High School teachers shocked local families after they were leaked last Thursday. 

One of these was the Bradley family, whose son was mentioned in the final message in the leaked section.

“One teacher who was talking about me had mentioned my name, my legal name, and the name I go by at school and seemed like she didn’t have too much respect for it,” Kian Bradley said.

Kian, originally born as Katelyn Bradley, identifies as transgender and is a member of Ashford High School’s marching band and concert band. After coming out as trans around a year ago, Kian says the reaction from his peers was surprisingly positive, but it isn’t always easy. 

“I’ve been scared, to say the least,” he said. “I never know what to expect with who I’m around. I’m always careful with what I say, how I introduce myself to certain people, because I never know how the reaction is going to be.” 

The National Center for Transgender Equality says that trans teens are often the target of bullying, from both their peers and school officials who single them out.

“More than half of transgender male teens who participated in the survey reported attempting suicide in their lifetime, while 29.9 percent of transgender female teens said they attempted suicide,” a 2018 report by the Humans Rights Campaign states. “Among non-binary youth (those who do not identify with the gender binary), 41.8 percent of respondents stated that they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.” 

The Bradleys said Kian was once a student of the teacher that spoke about him and that the comment came as a surprise. 

“(Students) are judged by their peers all the time,” Kian’s mother Leah Bradley said. “That’s what high school does so teachers should be their safe place.” 

The teacher did apologize to Kian, but he said it will take a lot of time and effort to help mend the wounds from the scandal. 

“There’s going to be a lot of students who are gonna just disregard anything anybody has to say because of this situation, and I don’t think that’s right,” he said. “I don’t think they should, but, like, that’s just what’s gonna happen ‘cause they’re gonna think ‘you know, these teachers don’t care about me, so why should I care about them or what they say?’” 

As for himself, Kian wishes people would learn to just see him as anybody else. 

“I just wish people wouldn’t focus so much on me being trans,” he said. “I’m just a person, and I’m just trying to live.” 

The Bradleys said they would be meeting with Superintendent David Sewell Wednesday morning. A meeting to deal with the teachers was scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday but was canceled Tuesday.

If you or a loved one are considering suicide, you can call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. LGBT youth can also contact the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 if they need someone to talk to. Transgender people can speak to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.

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