He was puzzled by what she told him. The teacher had done something to her grandson that had his mind racing. But he didn’t say a word, and his facial expression didn’t change.
He continued to listen to her until she had nothing more to say. He made no reply when he hung up the phone and got into his truck. He didn’t know what he would do or what he would be faced with when he got there, but he couldn’t let this slide.
Malcolm Bedford had always been supportive of his daughter’s decisions. When she met her partner, BaeLa, he was happy that little Zach would have another parental figure in the household.
Although Malcolm was open-minded enough to accept that Zach now had two moms, he couldn’t abide by what the school was doing behind all of their backs. It was a step too far.
Kayla Bedford and her partner had researched all the schools in the area of Wichita, Kansas before finally deciding on Bethany Early Childhood Center.
They wanted their two-year-old son, Zach, to get the best possible start in life. With small classes and a focus on instilling solid Christian values, the private school seemed like the perfect fit.
Even though Zach was the only African American child in his class, Kayla thought that Bethany Early Childhood Center would be a good fit. She filled out the paperwork and promptly enrolled him.
She couldn’t have known that the school was about to do something that would make her sorely regret her decision and cause controversy online. It wouldn’t be long before other parents were demanding answers, too.
Behind Closed Doors
After a few months at the school, everything seemed to be going well. Little Zach made a lot of new friends and seemed to love all his teachers.
Kayla began to enjoy her free time at home, trusting that her son was in good hands. But, as Kayla and her partner were about to find out, things weren’t what they seemed.
One day, BaeLa dropped Zach at school early, as usual. She said her goodbyes to the little boy and left him in the teacher’s capable hands. But something told her to turn around as she walked away.
And when she saw what was happening, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Immediately, her blood began to boil. Just what did they think they were doing? She had to tell Kayla right away.
Kayla was livid when she learned what had happened at her son’s school that day. She had worried that her son would have a hard time fitting in, but this?
It was just too much. She stormed into the school to confront Zach’s teacher, only to be completely blindsided. She saw what he was wearing and saw red.
What Was Going On?
BaeLa had turned around to see the teacher putting a dress on their son. And even after she had confronted the teacher that very morning, the teacher had the audacity to go against her wishes.
When Kayla arrived at the school to give them a piece of her mind, she saw Zach wearing the dress again. What was going on here?
Kayla stormed over and pulled the dress off her son. “We don’t do this,” she spat. Then, she pulled the teacher aside and told her that she didn’t condone her son wearing a dress at school.
The teacher just laughed in her face, exclaiming: “He’s only two!” Well, if the teacher wasn’t going to take her seriously, she knew someone who would.
Now, Kayla’s dad wasn’t a man to take things lying down. Standing at 6 feet tall with an impressive collection of tattoos covering his heavily-muscled arms, everyone in town knew he wasn’t a man to be trifled with.
And now, he was ready for a showdown. Zach’s teacher had no idea just what was coming her way.
Kayla called her dad and told him everything. She was furious, and the teacher obviously wasn’t taking her seriously. “A dress! A dress, dad!” she yelled.
“Please come,” she pleaded. Malcolm hung up and got into his truck, getting angrier by the minute. Nobody messed with his family. They didn’t call him the “Wichita Mangler” for nothing.
Malcolm pulled out his phone, hit record, and burst into the classroom. The teacher’s jaw hung open as he began to confront her.
“My daughter called me and told me she had an issue here about my grandson being in a dress,” Malcolm tells the teacher. “I’m trying to see what the issue is about.” The woman stammered that he’d have to speak to the school’s director, but he was having none of it.
We Don’t Do That
“I come down here because we don’t do that transgender and all that,” Malcolm tells the teacher. “We don’t do that.” But the teacher’s reply sent him reeling.
“He’s two,” she insists. “I don’t appreciate you encouraging him to put on no dress, for a second time too,” Malcolm yells. “And don’t think this is going away, I’m going further with this. The next time you put any kid in a dress, we’re going to make you go viral.”
Malcolm uploaded the video to Facebook, where it quickly gathered traction. The video clip had been viewed more than 22,000 times just a few days later! It wasn’t long before Malcolm found himself in the middle of a heated debate online. But why all the controversy?
“I am a lesbian, but I don’t push my son in any direction,” Kayla explained. “Whatever he decides to do or wear in the future is his decision.” However, netizens who heard about the story were divided.
“You can hear the teacher say “he’s two,” one Reddit user wrote. “I work in a preschool with 2’s and I can tell you that in the dramatic play area we have all types of clothing. To them, it’s just clothes. It doesn’t represent gender at all. They are two.”
Another wrote: The staff shouldn’t be putting kids in dresses. People will look at this as transphobic but any parent can argue not to dress their kids up like this.” What do you think?
“It’s hard to actually know what went on but I’d put a little boy in a dress if that’s what he wanted,” wrote one Instagrammer. “My son has worn princess dresses with his sister … it’s called dress-up. Relax.”
And, according to pediatrician Jack Maypole, playing dress-up is a popular game – even among young boys.
Exploring Gender Identity
Pediatrician Jack Maypole advises parents that playing dress-up is a useful tool that helps children explore their gender identity – and it’s completely normal for children to dress up as the opposite sex.
And, according to a study, playing dress-up isn’t just helpful for exploring gender identity, it helps children learn about empathy as well.
Clothes Don’t Make The Man
“This is a very common behavior, and again, it’s a step in kids’ figuring out gender identities: Before about age 4, children may be able to identify a picture of a person as either male or female,” the pediatrician explained.
“But they may think that if the subject changes clothing or hairstyle, he or she changes sex as well. Dress-up helps kids test out theories and arrive at a more mature understanding that clothes don’t make the man (or woman).”
However normal dress-up may be for young boys, Kayla still feels like her feelings on the matter were completely disregarded.
And there still has been no reasonable explanation from the teacher as to why her son was wearing a dress on not one, but two occasions – even after she was warned about it. But there was another reason why Kayla was angry about the situation.
Worried About Discrimination
Kayla is concerned because her son is the only African-American boy in his class.
She feels like he’s already vulnerable to discrimination from the other children, and seeing him, “parading around” in a dress might make the situation worse. Another concern she has is that the school seems to lack dress-up outfits for boys.
The School’s Response
“At Bethany Early Childhood Center we put our children first and foremost. We encourage our children to play in a Christ-centered atmosphere that we hope will allow them to gain confidence and learn to interact with others in a positive way,” a representative responded.
“Our primary responsibility is to our children and part of that is protecting their privacy, because of this we are unable to comment on specific incidents involving a child in our care.”
The Debate Continues To Rage
Meanwhile, on Reddit, the video continues to spark debate. However, because neither the school nor the teacher ever clarified why Zach was wearing a dress, it’s been difficult for people to pick sides.
Redditers are divided about whether boys should be allowed to cross-dress in school, but most agreed that Malcolm’s handling of the situation was just plain wrong.
“It’s not a matter of putting them in a dress, there are outfits in most pretend play areas including dresses and in most schools, you are legally not allowed to tell a kid “no you can’t wear or put that on,” one Redditer wrote.
“You’re right, the staff can’t force them to wear it and shouldn’t but I don’t think that’s the case, just how that man took it.”
“You do this again we’re gonna make this go viral” …yeah he’s an a**,” another user wrote.
“He doesn’t even know if that’s the woman who did that to his grandson and there is a way to handle situations when your upset without acting this way. He literally stood there and intimidated that woman in front of kids “no IM not done talking to YOU!” …I would’ve had him leave and not come back with his grandson.”
It Wasn’t Her Place
“The boy was two. The teacher remarks on that in the video. But by the time he’s four, he will feel out of place as a boy in a dress. Are you saying that’s not the case?” another Redditer argued.
“Oh, I know about the pink and the blue juxtaposition and the dresses for kids under 4. That’s not the case anymore and the issue is neither the grandfather’s fragile masculinity, but the child’s own comfort and welfare imo. And honestly, an even bigger issue is the teacher making grand life decisions for a child of two. It’s not her place to assign gender to a two-year-old, or four or sixteen.”
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead are entirely coincidental