Now, however, they feel like their community has betrayed them.
In the midst of tense local school board elections some members of the community chose to weaponize the Waits’ personal lives, out their trans daughter and harass the couple for their parenting choices.
Anti-maskers pushed Waits off a Hastings school board and outed her trans daughter.
Kelsey Waits, the chair of the local school board, was the target of vitriol when the pandemic hit and mask mandates were introduced in schools.
According to her interview with CNN, Kelsey Waits said, “I probably got about the same number of emails from parents saying, ‘My child is not going to school if masks are required’ as ‘My child is not going to school if masks aren’t required.’”
Already, she was in a stressful situation, with all sides telling her how the schools should run, but it was her worst nightmare come to life when those criticizing her online went way more personal.
Kelsey and Chris Waits have two daughters, though some in Hastings have taken it upon themselves to disagree.
This is because the Waits’ youngest daughter, Kit, was assigned male at birth, before realizing that she didn’t feel like a boy.
At only four years old, Kit knew that she wanted to be called a girl, and asked her mother to call her Kit, the same name as her favorite American Girl doll.
While the family stresses how far they’ve come and how much they learned about trans kids from their experiences raising Kit, the rest of the community was not so welcoming to the young girl.
A Facebook group, first called “Conservative Parents of Hastings,” later changed to “Concerned Parents of Hastings,” was formed in July and was first organized to oppose mask mandates.
Kelsey Waits knew the group was against her, but she was relatively unperturbed — that is, until they started going after her and her family, especially her youngest daughter.
While other parents did not shy away from going after Kelsey Waits, the final straw was when one parent in the group posted, “She should be locked up for child abuse. Her younger ‘daughter’ is actually a boy.”
This prompted others to join in with their own opinions on the Waits’ parenting, saying they pushed their child into being a trans girl.
She tried to reach out to the local paper to beg the Facebook group for decency and no more comments about her children, saying, “there are boundaries that should not be crossed.”
However, many of them only seemed eager for their group to be referred to in the paper and paid little mind to what Kelsey Waits was asking for.
The Waits no longer feel welcome in their community.
While the Waits parents had hoped for decency from their community, a community that they had now belonged to and participated in for years, they could no longer find much to make them believe that Hastings was still a safe place for their daughter.
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After living in fear for their now 8-year-old daughter’s safety and losing reelection in the wake of the judgmental parents that brought out personal information, the Waits family has decided to move on.
A bit jaded after their once dream community had seemingly backstabbed them, they now want to live more privately, in a new, undisclosed home.
We can only hope that wherever they decide is a bit more welcoming for them and their children.
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Amanda Hartmann is a writer and editorial intern at YourTango who focuses on news and entertainment stories.