Opinion: Our values keep us caring, no room for hateful words

Dec 31, 2022

Dear editor, 

Thank you Tom and Frances Kearns, for your strength in speaking truth to power. Over the past few months, we have been increasingly concerned at the reports of racial bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students in our Mattapoisett schools and on the school buses. Additionally, we are alarmed at the attempts to remove books about people of color and LGBTQ people from the junior and senior high school libraries. We have attended ORR District School Committee and Policy Sub-Committee meetings to get a better sense of what’s going on and to support our elected representatives who are responsible for the well-being of our town’s children attending our local schools.

As 25 year residents of our community, we do not have children in the system, although we have friends in the junior high and our great-grand niece will be starting in a few years. We want their experience to be one where we know they will be treated with the dignity and respect that all of us need to develop into healthy beings.

We appreciate the level of professionalism we’ve observed by the school administration and librarians who have discussed the issues brought before the respective boards and at community forums. However, we were amazed at some of the language and innuendos expressed by others in attendance, including some elected officials.

At a recent community forum, area librarians gave parents a very direct way to prevent children from taking books out of the libraries that their parents oppose. Simply give your written consent for the books you forbid your child from taking out from the library to the librarians. They will abide by your wishes. We suggest another point for those parents to consider: If you think the professionally vetted books available are the danger, please think about how and what children learn exploring the internet. Despite the documented factual information, there is an increasing amount of misinformation that abounds.

Our values of openness, honesty, respect for others – no matter who they are – keep us caring about how younger people are growing up in our community. There is no room for hateful words to be spoken. There is no room for making another person feel “less than” someone else. Words hurt and have sometimes escalated to violence. Growing up in a polarized environment is not good for anyone. Appreciating the uniqueness of one another is to be valued, not put down. Think about whether we want all our children to be embraced and valued rather than being treated in a disrespectful and hurtful manner.

Bev Baccelli and Liz DiCarlo, Mattapoisett