A tense verbal exchange between a parent and student has thrust a gay teenager into the national spotlight.
Mackenzie Atwood, a senior at Franklin High School in Franklin, Massachusetts spoke at a school committee meeting earlier this week. CBS News reports that Atwood delivered remarks on a new class aimed at ending teen bullying in the classroom.
“I am gay,” Atwood explained to the board. “Call me what you want about that, I’m being personally attacked in school about that.”
No sooner had she uttered the words, when an adult in the audience stood up and started screaming at Atwood.
“This has to stop. This is the indoctrination,” the adult yells in the video.
An emotional Atwood would not stand for the abuse, and would not back down.
“This is extremely disgusting that you can look me in the eyes and say that I’m not being oppressed at the school,” Atwood yelled back in tears.
The chairman of the committee eventually had the unruly adult removed from the room. Later, Franklin schools superintendent Dr. Sara Ahern sent a letter to parents calling the incident “unacceptable.”
“It’s so invalidating because people love to believe that being gay is a choice. It was very emotional,” Atwood later recalled to CBS. “I think it just lies in parents and just people being more educated about respecting people’s identities.”
“It’s sad that we have adults acting that way,” Laura Atwood, Mackenzie’s mom, also added.
The incident at the Franklin High committee meeting is just the latest in a wave of aggression against LGBTQ students in American high schools. Earlier this month, a school in Illinois came under fire after students and a parent formed an “Anti-Queer Association” and petitioned to have all LGBTQ students banned from using the bathroom with straight students. In Florida, video captured students harassing members of a school’s gay-straight alliance and defacing the pride flag. In April, Utah students also defaced the pride flag in a video that later went viral.