RUTHERFORD, Co, Tenn. (NBC) – A Tennessee high school student calling for mandatory mask-wearing in his school was interrupted by heckling adults while speaking about his grandmother, who died of COVID-19, at a school board meeting.
Grady Knox, a junior at Central Magnet School, was mocked and shouted down while speaking at a Rutherford County School Board meeting Tuesday night. A clip of the moment made the rounds of social media, showing adults telling the teenage boy to “shut up” as he gave a personal story to relay his views in favor of mask mandates.
“This time last year, my grandmother, who was a former teacher at the Rutherford County school system died of Covid because someone wasn’t wearing a mask,” Knox said.
He tried to continue his speech, but got interrupted by laughing and heckling from adults in attendance.
The school board chairman ended up stepping in.
“Hey guys, we’re here to act professional,” he said.
Knox said he could not believe what happened.
“It was complete insanity from my perspective,” Knox said. “If they laugh at me about a personal story about my grandmother, that’s just disrespectful, I feel. So, I was like shaken a little bit.”
Board members like Claire Maxwell say the reaction from some in the audience did not sit well with them.
“We all wholeheartedly, all seven of us, were ashamed about what happened and we want to make sure nothing like that ever happens again,” Rutherford Co. School Board Member Claire Maxwell said.
Those two minutes of the roughly three-hour meeting have now spread on social media. Knox said it’s not a reflection of Rutherford County.
“I hope that they can see that there’s people like me that want to see change and look past all of the hecklers,” Knox said.
For Knox, he said the laughing will not stop him from speaking up again.
“As long as I can get my message across, I don’t really think it matters what the crowd thinks of me. Overall, they’re not the ones making the decisions for the school,” Knox said.