OWEN COUNTY, KY (FOX19) - Nicki Sullivan says her child, designated male at birth, has always identified herself as female. After seeking advice from GLSEN, a gay lesbian and straight education network, last Monday Nicki's 7-year-old daughter Ella made her identity public.
"She came back Monday as a girl. New teacher, new wardrobe, new backpack, completely changed. She was introduced as a new student, Ella Grace," explained Nicki Sullivan.
Sullivan says over the last week Owen County Elementary School has been more than accommodating to her transgender 7-year-old daughter Ella providing a unisex restroom and protecting her from potential bullying.
"They've been supportive. There hasn't been any issues with the school at all," said Sullivan.
But parents of Ella's 2nd grade classmates are concerned.
"I've told my son to be nice when he sees this boy. I've told him to never refer to him a girl because that is not what he is," said Caynah Lindsey.
Lindsey says Ella's new name and new wardrobe is confusing to other kids including her own.
"To me, a boy who on Friday is a boy and on Monday decides to be a girl, to me that's a major distraction. Our kids shouldn't have to go through that. It's one thing when they are older or in high school. They are adults. They can make decisions. But we are talking about a 7-year-old child. How does a 7-year-old know what they want?" said Lindsey.
Nicki says this isn't about any other child but her own and allowing Ella to be who she has always been.
"People have said they're going to pull their kids out of the same class, stupid things like that but I'm not worried about it. She's the same kid. Different name. Different clothes," said Sullivan.
Sullivan says Ella has been chased on the playground, her clothes pulled and some children have asked her mean questions but school officials have been monitoring the situation and disciplining those children. Sullivan also says she has received threats through Facebook from adults who disagree with the change.
The superintendent of Owen County schools Rob Strafford would not comment on this specific case but says it's their job to provide a safe learning environment for all children regardless of gender, race or any other specification.