(Alana Semuels and her childhood friend Eddie, who met through the METCO program. Courtesy of Alana Semuels.)

This Week in Family

The Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO), the Boston area’s school-integration program, is one of the longest-running voluntary programs in U.S. history. But the housing integration that would have reinforced school integration never materialized, and so the area’s schools are just as segregated as they were when METCO was established. METCO is underfunded and shrinking in size every year, and 8,000 Boston public-school students are on a wait list for a spot at a suburban school. Do wealthy suburban parents have to be convinced that school integration is good for their own kids in order for METCO to survive?
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Highlights

(Wenjia Tang)

In this week’s installment of The Friendship Files, two women who were college roommates discuss how they supported each other through the difficult decision to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both women grew up in predominantly Mormon communities in practicing families. They went through the transition to new communities in different parts of the country knowing that they could talk with each other without having to stop and explain their backstory.
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RICHARD BAKER / GETTY

Physical contact can be really good for humans: Touching premature babies can help them grow faster, and hugs might help your immune system respond to a cold. Some researchers are worried that the benefits of human touch are being reduced as parents and kids spend more time interacting on-screen than in real life. The key takeaway in the research about physical touch implies that the benefits stem from expected and welcomed physical contact, not unwanted and unpredictable contact. Joe Biden’s recent nonapology for his “tactile style” blurs that important difference, even if he says he meant well.
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When Alex marries her fiancé, Alex, later this year, they’ll have their close friend Alex officiate the wedding. While the three-Alex wedding party is a bit unusual, it’s becoming more common for couples to have a friend officiate their marriage instead of a religious figure. A decade ago, there weren’t enough data to track how ubiquitous the practice was, but by 2015, nearly four in 10 couples had a friend do the honors. The trend could stem from declining rates of religiosity among young people, or the desire for a more personal and authentic big day.
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Programming note: Dear Therapist is on hiatus until April 29. You can read through the archives, and keep sending Lori your questions at dear.therapist@theatlantic.com.

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