When Billie Hoard first announced that she was transitioning, she knew it wouldn’t be easy. But she never thought she would receive online comments like: “That thing should be put down.”
Hoard, whose birth sex was male, was working as a social studies teacher at Chesapeake High School in Pasadena when she publicly revealed her transgender identity in February 2021. Previously, she had notified the school’s principal and the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County about her plans to transition.
Then, in May of 2022, someone sent an image of her in her classroom to Libs of TikTok, a far-right and anti-LGBTQ social media account. Hoard began to consistently receive hateful and violent threats on various social media platforms. They included:
“You fucking sick ugly groomer, I hope u die a painful lonely death you fucking pedo.”
“I’ll find and beat you up you filthy trans pedophile.”
“He would be a amazing fit for machine guns.”
“Why does he look so punchable? I would seriously enjoy punching him repeatedly even after my knuckles are raw, bloody, and swollen.”
An Instagram user sent Hoard a direct message that said, “It’s about time your mentally ill retarded ass got called out!!!!!!” The user went on to repeatedly threaten Hoard.
The Anne Arundel County resident who sent that message was eventually charged with a hate crime. The individual pleaded guilty last July to a hate crime and was sentenced to three years of probation and 100 community service hours. She has since died.
Hoard, a teacher since 2012, said Chesapeake High did support her, increasing the presence of police at the school and providing her with a parking spot closer to the building entrance. But online threats persisted.
“It’s difficult to teach when, for all you know, some of your students have been making threats against you,” Hoard said.
Hoard’s wife also feared for the safety of the teacher and their three children, ages 9 to 14. “She was terrified of what would happen to me,” Hoard said.
Other trans teachers have faced similar harassment. NPR found in 2018 that 56% of 79 trans teachers surveyed reported some form of workplace discrimination or harassment.
Bob Mosier, the chief communications officer for Anne Arundel County Public Schools, said in response to questions about Hoard’s case: “We want to support every one of our educators in every way that we possibly can.”
Mosier cited a school board policy that prohibits discrimination in all AACPS programs on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability and genetic information, identity or expression.
Hoard faced other challenges in Anne Arundel.
In October 2022, Hoard said she was placed on suspension after parents complained that she was inappropriate with students during her time as leader of the school’s LGBTQ club.
Hoard denied any inappropriate interactions with students, but said she did improperly use Instagram to communicate with some. She then faced more online attacks.
In the spring of 2023, Hoard was transferred to Annapolis High School. “I suspected that I was transferred because it was the best chance I had,” Hoard said.
Asked about the reassignment, Mosier said, “We want our school communities to be inclusive and accepting environments, and when it doesn’t happen, we take steps to remedy the situation.”
She seemed to be settling in at Annapolis High, until some parents discovered Hoard was there.
“I did have an incident,” Hoard said. “A student shouted a slur at me, and they dealt with that immediately and very seriously as well.”
Hoard continued to receive online threats, but they slowed down. She started teaching in Baltimore City this school year as a social studies teacher.
“I was worried that a group of parents would always find me,” Hoard said. She said she didn’t think Anne Arundel was “able to ensure the safety of any transgender teacher.”
Another factor was the long commute from Baltimore to Annapolis, she said. Hoard doesn’t feel comfortable revealing the name of the school where she currently teaches, but said she is doing well there.
“I have really enjoyed teaching in Baltimore City Schools. They have done well by me and have given me a place to thrive as an educator,” Hoard said. “My school has been totally welcoming and the administration and faculty here have proven to be so warmly inclusive.”
Hoard said she loves teaching and plans to continue doing so.
“I have wanted to be a teacher since grad school, when I started out as a substitute while working on my master’s and fell in love with helping students develop their creativity, critical thinking, and understanding of the world,” Hoard said. “And that is what keeps me going through everything. I continue to see students learn and develop into the amazing people they are becoming, and I am deeply honored to be a part of that.”
The story has been updated to correct the gender of an Anne Arundel County resident who was charged with a hate crime and has since died.