An openly gay high school senior sharing her experience of being bullied was left in tears during a school board meeting Tuesday night, when she was heckled by a woman in the audience who called her story ‘indoctrination.’
Mackenzie Atwood, the treasurer of the senior class at Franklin High School in Massachusetts, was given permission by the school board to respond to a question about what constitutes a protected class in the school.
‘At the beginning of every school year, we have meetings discussing who is protected,’ Atwood begins, noting that the term basically applies to everyone.
But, she said, ‘Though everyone is said to be protected, that is not entirely true.
‘When kids are coming to theater every single day telling me “Oh I got called a f***** yesterday” or “I got a called a racial slur in the hallway” that’s not something to joke about – though it’s something we’ve become so numb to that it’s become a joke.
‘So I think it’s important to understand that, yes everyone is protected in the school, but being someone who is Caucasian is not something you’re being bullied about.’
Mackenzie Atwood, the treasurer of the senior class at Franklin High School in Massachusetts, was granted permission to respond to a question from an audience member about what constitutes a protected class
She said that as a gay student she has been bullied, and she has heard from some of her friends who have been called a racial slur
At that point, people could be heard heckling the teenage girl, saying ‘No, that’s not-‘ as School Committee Chair Anne Bergen banged a gavel to silence the crowd.
Atwood then continues: ‘Being homosexual, which I must say I am gay, call me what you want about that, I am being personally attacked in school about that.’
Members of the crowd once again tried to scream over her as she spoke, causing Bergen to tell the crowd: ‘Quiet down, you will be asked to leave.’
The camera recording the meeting then turns back to Atwood, as she gets visibly more upset and cries out: ‘It is extremely disgusting that you can look me in the eyes and say that I’m not being oppressed at this school.’
It is following that remark that one woman could be heard clearly saying: ‘This has to stop, this is indoctrination.’
In response, Atwood replies that there is ‘no such thing as the gay agenda,’ as Bergen called for a brief recess in the meeting.
After the crowd started heckling her, Atwood became increasingly upset, saying: ‘It is extremely disgusting that you can look me in the eyes and say that I’m not being oppressed at this school’
School Committee Chair Anne Bergen kept banging the gavel in an attempt to quiet down the crowd before she ultimately called for a recess
When the school board came back about 10 minutes later, Bergen once again told the crowd: ‘I do not ever, ever want to ask anyone to leave, but this meeting will be conducted respectfully.
‘There will be no shouting from the crowd,’ Bergen said. ‘That is not how we ever, ever conduct meetings in this building.’
She then turns the microphone back over to Atwood for one final thought before they moved on to other business.
With her last moment to speak, Atwood used the metaphor of a neighbor with a burning house telling the onlookers to look at how nice their house is. ‘There are minority houses burning that we need to focus on first,’ she said.
Atwood told CBS 4 she was still shaken up by the outburst two days later
District Superintendent Sara Ahern called the disruption ‘appalling’ and a violation of the district’s core values of a safe and inclusive environment.’
She said ‘the jeers from some audience members created a traumatic situation for the student and invalidated her statement of reality she so courageously shared.
Atwood told CBS 4 that she was still shaken up by the experience two days later.
‘It’s so invalidating because people love to believe that being gay is a choice,’ she told the local CBS affiliate. ‘It was very emotional.’
She also said she thinks ‘parents and people’ should just be ‘more educated about people’s identities.’
But, Ahern wrote in her letter to the community following the school board meeting, the outburst on Tuesday was not an isolated incident.
‘Bias-based behavior is permeating layers of the community,’ she wrote. ‘As adults, I implore you to be more mindful of your behavior as you serve as important role models.
‘Our children are watching,’ she noted.
The incident at Franklin High School (pictured) comes amid an increase in unruly citizens interrupting school board meetings
The outburst last week came amid an increase in unruly citizens interrupting school board meetings over issues such as critical race theory and coronavirus precautions.
Last month, the National School Board association sent a letter to the Biden administration saying that the country’s schools and educators are under ‘immediate threat.’
They asked the federal government for ‘law enforcement and assistance’ from agencies like the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to manage the ‘growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation.’
The Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania school board associations have since voted to secede from the NSBA, according to Insider, saying a call for federal intervention is antithetical to the school boards’ role of local control.