Opinion: Open letter to Tri-Town residents

May 12, 2023

To the editor:

My name is Kelly McGowan Ochoa and I am a teacher at Old Rochester Regional High School. I was raised in Mattapoisett and have worked at ORR for the past 25 years. I am writing to you to express my concerns for the children of the Tri-Town, based on the current races for School Committee in each of the communities and the race for the ORR School Committee. Some of the candidates in these races have been trained by an organization called the Massachusetts Family Institute. This organization’s mission is “is dedicated to strengthening the family and affirming the Judeo- Christian values upon which it is based”. While strengthening families and affirming Judeo-Christian values does not sound scary, there are a few beliefs stated on their website which do concern me.

One belief is that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I know for a fact that there are several families in the Tri-Town for whom this is not their family structure. What will be the message that these families receive from our School Committee?

Additionally, this group has accused schools of secretly transitioning children and not telling families. We have many students at ORR who struggle with their identities. Teachers, guidance counselors and social workers are available to work with the student and the family. We do not secretly encourage kids to transition, most kids come to us already with the idea of transitioning. They can find plenty of information about it on the Internet.

The role of the School Committee is to advise the administration of the schools and help to set policy. If these candidates who have been trained and have the backing of the Massachusetts Family Institute are elected, what will this mean for our students and their families? I do not wish to find out. Please look at the websites of all of the candidates before you make your decision.

Kelly McGowan Ochoa, Spanish Teacher ORRHS