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A Bourne, Mass. school committee member is under fire after TikTok videos she posted about race and gender identity were brought to the attention of the district.
The Bourne Educators Association is calling for Kari MacRae, who was elected to the School Committee in May in an uncontested race, to resign, saying her views are evidently not consistent with the district’s values and are harmful to students.
Though MacRae’s TikTok is no longer publicly available (her username is @nanamacof4), videos and screenshots were shared with Boston.com by district parent and educator Alexandra Caldwell, parent Alexandra Stanton, and an unnamed source.
In the first video, MacRae says she ran for office to ensure students are not being taught critical race theory — and that the country was built on racism — or that they can choose their gender.
“It’s one thing to include and it’s one thing to be inclusive. And it’s one thing to educate everybody about everything,” she says. “It’s completely another thing to push your agenda. With me on the school board, that won’t happen in our town.”
In the second, she says she won’t use they/them pronouns to refer to someone, only their name, because she’s not going to be a liar and say someone is plural when they’re not.
School Committee President Emily Berry told Boston.com the committee and superintendent learned about the posts from a Bourne graduate and met in executive session on Sept. 1 to discuss the issue. That’s when the union heard about it: AnnMarie Strode, BEA president, and Bourne High School history teacher, told Boston.com union members met shortly after and voted unanimously to call for MacRae’s resignation.
“First and foremost it’s about our students, and we have a number of students that are in the LGBTQ+ community,” Strode said. “As educators, it’s important we stand for our students. They are in a vulnerable position at this age in trying to figure out who they are, and where they’re going, and what they’re doing. The memes that were posted were really anti-transgender — there was a pattern of that — and as a union, we had to stand for our students.”
The union and district are focusing on MacRae’s comments about gender, and not her comments on critical race theory, because the state curriculum doesn’t include critical race theory. Also, Strode said the members had initially only seen the posts regarding gender, not race, but stand for an inclusive school community across the board.
“We don’t support the disparagement of anyone, regardless of color, gender, ethnicity, or identity — we want to provide a safe environment for all students and staff members,” Strode said. “That is at the core of our values, and something we’re responsible for and owe it to our students to do.”
Bourne Superintendent Kerri Anne Quinlan-Zhou told Boston.com the district is monitoring the impact on the school community to understand how people may need support.
“As educators, the Administrative Team and I stand with the Bourne Education Association to strive to make sure that Bourne Public Schools continues to be a welcoming and inclusive place for all students and all staff,” she wrote.
“The number one priority of the Bourne School Committee is to ensure a respectful, responsible, and safe environment for all students and staff,” Berry said. “Several posts on Ms. MacRae’s TikTok were derogatory towards the LGBTQ community and in direct violation with the Bourne Public School policy regarding diversity, equity and inclusion.”
MacRae did not respond to multiple requests for comment but did send a statement to the Cape Cod Times. According to Berry, she also apologized to the committee and is preparing a formal statement for a future public meeting.
“I decided to run for the school committee to give back to my community that I love and have been a citizen of my whole life,” MacRae said. “Since being sworn in on May 19th, I have been engaged, excited and have learned so much. I now feel that I have let some down. The mere thought of any member of our community feeling anything less than safe and heard saddens me deeply. As a mother, grandmother, and woman, I have always been someone that family, friends and colleagues could reach out to for support when dealing with life struggles. I am also a proud lifelong Bourne resident and I love my community and this includes EVERYONE! I love our schools and staff which I have known for many years after having three children go through our public school system.”
The union will officially call for MacRae’s resignation at a Wednesday night meeting, where the issue will again be discussed in executive session following public comment. Berry said the school committee does not have the authority to remove a member, so MacRae would need to resign or a recall election would need to be organized.
Caldwell, who is part of a two-mom parenting unit raising a transgender child, believes MacRae should resign since she doesn’t seem committed to providing a safe learning environment for everyone.
“There’s a lot of research out about the mental health of trans youth — that they are more likely to attempt or commit suicide, they are more likely to end up with substance abuse problems, more likely to be depressed because they are outcast,” she said. “That research is all based on not being affirmed for who they are and not being supported for the person they truly are. We’re turning a corner…wherein we’re supporting children for who they truly are, no matter what we thought they might have been. She’s trying to turn that back… Visibility matters to people, cultures, and if our schools are telling people they need to hide who they are, it is not only affecting those individuals who are hiding, it is affecting the generations that are coming after them because they don’t get to see themselves visible as successful people.”
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