School board meetings across the country continue to remain heated, but not always with regard to masks. A Massachusetts high school has made headlines after a senior student, who is openly gay, spoke about her experiences with bullying. The student, identified as Mackenzie Atwood, left the meeting in tears after not only sharing her trauma but being heckled by adults in the audience who called her story “indoctrination.”
The incident occurred after Atwood, treasurer of the senior class at Franklin High School, 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 said, noting that the term applies to all. “Though everyone is said to be protected, that is not entirely true.”
As an openly gay person, Atwood shared that she had been bullied and friends of hers had been called racial slurs. She also emphasized the importance of noting that people were not being bullied because they were white.
According to The Milford Daily News, the comment follows concerns by some parents who questioned whether their children were part of the “protected classes” because they were white.
“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.”
She continued: “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.”
Atwood was still speaking when a parent in the audience then attempted to interrupt her. Despite this, Atwood continued to finish her thought: “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.”
Yet, the audience members persisted and continued to attempt to scream over her.
The recording of the meeting depicts Atwood’s clear distress. It is heartbreaking to see the teen grow more upset as so-called adults yell over her. “It is extremely disgusting that you can look me in the eyes and say that I'm not being oppressed at this school,” Atwood said.
It’s after this comment that a woman can he heard loudly saying, “This has to stop, this is indoctrination.”
Atwood then breaks into tears. “There is no such thing as the gay agenda!” she responds.
The meeting is then put on recess.
"I do not ever, ever want to ask anyone to leave, but this meeting will be conducted respectfully," school committee chair Anne Bergen said prior to ending the meeting. "There will be no shouting out from the crowd. That is not how we ever, ever conduct meetings in this building."
The video of the incident has since then gone viral. In response to how she felt during the incident Atwood told WBTV Thursday that “It definitely induced a lot of panic in me.” She shared that she is still trying to process the incident.
“This woman stood up and said, ‘This is the type of indoctrination that’s being taught in schools,’ I believe. It was very emotional,” Atwood said.
According to CBS News, the parent’s actions prompted the school committee chair to intervene. Franklin schools superintendent Dr. Sara Ahern sent a letter to parents calling the disruption “appalling” and “unacceptable.”
The superintendent also assured that all reports the school receives are taken seriously and are being investigated promptly. She added that all students are protected under the district's bullying prevention policy.
“It’s sad that we have adults acting that way,” Laura Atwood, Mackenzie’s mom added.
Watch the tearjerking moment Atwood shared her experience below:
Comments are closed on this story.