Judy Franklin: Let’s be open-minded and take care of our students

Published: 09-14-2023 11:08 AM

My mother bought me the book “Our Bodies, Ourselves” by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective in 1976 or so. I discovered that Massachusetts women are strong. And I knew people who had gone to college in Massachusetts, so in 1980 I moved here to go to graduate school at UMass. After working for a corporation, years later I became a tenured faculty member at Smith College. I became disabled and had to leave Smith. Through these experiences I met and was enriched by many international people, non-white people, LGBTQ+ people, disabled people, and have been lucky to be where many ideas and lifestyles are freely expressed. I love UMass and Smith and Massachusetts and the possibilities and open-mindedness we have here, especially in the Pioneer Valley area. I am so grateful to live in Massachusetts. I believe strongly that we must protect what we have here and protect everyone here with differences and vulnerabilities. This is especially true for our children in our schools.

It is so hard for a kid to go through the process of growing and maturing in middle and high school. If they are LGBTQ+, in a minority, disabled, on the spectrum, or are deemed “different” in some way, they need parent, staff, teacher, and school committee support. Similarly, teachers and staff may also be LGBTQ+, in a minority, disabled, on the spectrum, or are deemed “different” in some way, and they need the support of each other and of the school committee. The same goes for school committee members themselves and for parents. We can encounter people with many differences and we must be open and embrace them, and nurture and support them. We are an important, open cultural area of a state that is a leader in doing the right thing by its citizens. This is my wish for the schools, the new school committee members and the new superintendent of schools in Amherst, and for all the school systems. It is best to open our hearts and take an optimistic step forward and take care of our students and of all of us.

Judy Franklin



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