Student heckled while discussing bullying at Massachusetts school board meeting

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 2:31 PM EDT
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FRANKLIN, Mass. (WBZ) - A high school senior broke down in tears at a Massachusetts school board meeting this week. She was speaking about being bullied because she is gay when someone interrupted her.

“It definitely induced a lot of panic in me,” Mackenzie Atwood said Thursday.

Atwood, a student at Franklin High School, is still trying to process the tense exchange at the school committee meeting held Tuesday.

She was addressing a previous speaker about protected classes against bullying when someone yelled at her mid-sentence.

“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.

Atwood is openly gay and has seen the bullying firsthand.

The outburst prompted the school committee chair to intervene, condemning the woman’s choice of words.

“This meeting will be conducted respectfully,” said Dr. Anne Bergen, Franklin School Committee, during the meeting. “There will no shouting out from the crowd. That is not how we ever, ever conduct meetings in this building.”

The superintendent sent a letter to parents, calling the disruption appalling and unacceptable.

“It’s sad that we have adults acting that way,” said Laura Atwood, Mackenzie Atwood’s mother.

Mother and daughter said they think positive change shouldn’t start at the school, but at home.

Mackenzie Atwood said it relies on parents, and people in general, being educated about respecting others and their identities.

“Teach respect - it’s the bottom line,” Laura Atwood said.

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