- File: Rob Donnelly
But on Tuesday, links to the controversial story and a recording of the newscast from that night went instead to a page that read "404/Not Found." When Seven Days asked about the missing content, WCAX news director Roger Garrity said the station took it down last week "to prevent others from using our reporting to attack people in the transgender community.
"We didn’t announce it then for fear it might further inflame the situation," Garrity wrote in an email. "We are now working with LGBTQ advocates on a message to the community acknowledging the harm that was caused."
In response to follow-up questions, Garrity said the station was working with Outright Vermont and GLAAD to craft its message and would put it on the 6 p.m. newscast "as soon as we have it ready to go."
The story quickly went viral on right-wing websites such as Fox News, Daily Signal, the New York Post, the Daily Wire and the Epoch Times. Shortly after, the Randolph school district was forced to disable its website after it was hacked and inundated with hate speech targeting transgender people.
The transgender student's mother spoke out last week, telling Seven Days that the WCAX story had grossly misrepresented what actually happened. The mother said her daughter was actually the one targeted, by several girls on the team, and that the school closed the locker room while investigating the incident in order to keep everyone safe. Orange Southwest School District superintendent Layne Millington, who said he was unable to comment about the details of the investigation because of federal law protecting student information, confirmed part of the mother's account in an email to Seven Days.
The locker room was shut down "to ensure student safety while the investigation is conducted, and the shutdown applies equally to the entire team," Millington wrote.
- The blank page on the WCAX website
"The purpose of our story was to examine a dispute over locker room usage and what state education policy has to say about it," he wrote in an October 3 email to Seven Days. "I believe that’s what our story did."
The next day, the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont released a statement in support of the transgender student, citing the "inaccurate and misleading local media report" aired by WCAX.
In response, Millington announced two community forums about the situation. The first was scheduled for the night of Tuesday, October 11; the second on October 20.