Washington County mom says school isn’t helping her bullied kids
At home, Grayson and Ashton Barrachina spend time working on their art, playing, and sometimes getting on each other’s nerves. Typical brother stuff, but these two are anything but typical.
They are both transgender — born female, but identify as male. At 17 and 13 years old, it has not been easy. Especially at school.
They’ve both attended Hartford Central School District in Washington County.
“They would bark at me like they were dogs,” Ashton said. “They called me like a b***h and stuff like that.”
Grayson describes his experience as a nightmare.
“They knew that I was queer. So they would call me f****t around in the hallways,” Grayson said. “I was pushed down the stairs. I was shoved in the hallways. Kids would push me in doorways, tell me that I’m not right.”
Grayson said dealing with the students was tough enough. He tried to get help from the school — the principal, the guidance counselors, and even the school nurse. However, he said nothing changed. The bullying only got worse.
“They had basically said that they will shoot anybody part of the LGBTQ community, starting off with me and my friend,” Grayson said. “We reported it and there was nothing done.”
Grayson and Ashton’s mom, Sarah Murphy, was nervous her kids would get bullied for being queer in a small town. This is worse than she imagined.
“It became, ‘Mom, I don’t want to live anymore because nobody likes me,'” she said.
Murphy is at her wit’s end.
“Having your kid be terrified to get out of the car, and it be an hour procedure,” she described. “We have to get the social worker or the school guidance counselor to come out and try to coax my child out of the car, crying.”
Both Grayson and Ashton struggle with depression and anxiety. Grayson even tried to take his own life.
Murphy said multiple DASA reports (Dignity for All Students) have been filed, but she hasn’t seen anything change.
She claims she was told to find another school district or home-school her children.
“What message is that sending these kids?” Murphy asked. “You’re supposed to be going to this place that’s safe and nurturing.”
Grayson has transferred to Lake Luzerne this year. He says he can breathe again, but he still worries about his little brother left behind at Hartford.
“It made me feel like I kind of abandoned him when I moved,” Grayson said. “I really get scared when I know he’s going through a lot of the bullying. I do have that fear of ‘What if something happens? I’m not there.'”
13 Investigates reached out to the Hartford Central School District’s superintendent, Andrew Cook. While he can’t comment on this specific case, he did spend a lot of time talking about all the precautions, procedures, and protocols put in place to make sure kids in his district are safe.
Cook said there is one crucial key to improving all situations involving children who are struggling.