COLORADO SPRINGS — Some Colorado Springs School District 11 board members are under fire for social media posts.
Parents, teachers, students, and community members are calling for Reverend Al Loma and Jason Jorgenson to resign from their positions over controversial posts and comments at board meetings.
"Loma has posted transphobic and racist memes on his social media pages, and community members have been able to see them, including students. Jorgenson has also made transphobic posts on his social, and he has been censored before. Last year he was censored for the same behavior," said Naomi Lopez, Neighbors for Education.
She says the comments and post have been continuous despite apologies from board members.
"President Parth Melpakam has said they have both made their public apologies and that they have corrected their statements and that's it, but we are wanting more. We are calling for their resignation because what they're doing is not safe for our students or community," said Lopez.
It hits close to home as her daughter identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
"First she said, mom permission to cuss and she was very upset. I said how do you feel about that and she says well I guess I just have to deal with it. Being queer, she expects to face difficulties. She says she feels nervous and unsafe to go to school," said Lopez.
Lopez says other students are also feeling the same way. Some District 11 students are planning a demonstration at this upcoming school board meeting Wednesday to all for accountability.
"This is very damaging to our students, they are learning by example. They are looking at those elected officials and saying they don't feel safe," said Lopez.
Neighbors for Education aren't the only ones calling on their resignation. Christopher Wright who is a community member plans to protest outside of Loma's church every Wednesday and Sunday until he resigns.
"One of my bigger concerns is that he recently shared an article about how to stop being gay which causes incredible psychology trauma to children and adults who are going down that path," said Wright.
Loma denies posting any controversial social media posts.
"I posted an article about this man in Hollywood. He was a homosexual and he said he met Jesus and it changed his life. I've never posted against or to make fun of. I deal with them all of the time and bring them in. My brother-in-law was a homosexual and died of aids, and I would take him in every week to get his meds before he died. I have family members in that lifestyle, they know I don't agree with it, but I love them. I'll always love them," said Loma.
He denies any racist allegations as he's both indigenous and Hispanic. Some community members had raised concerns after an incident where Loma emailed D11 superintendent, Dr. Michael J. Thomas, saying he was going to "gangster slap" an African American man.
"He came into the meeting and we always have the community share their thoughts. He came in there, never saw him before, and he started to address his concern which is great. That's the beauty of America, you can address your concern, but what caused me great concern is when he stood up and began to discuss in a violent nature and tone that we were dancing with the devil and he was the stick. I grew up in the ghetto, I wasn't born with a silver spoon, I was born with a shovel, and when he said that it brought me back home where I grew up. I restrained myself, but I looked at the audience and they were terrified, not just the ladies that are here. They intimidated the entire room, there were about a dozen men in black uniforms standing up," said Loma. "I wasn't going to say nothing but a couple of days later the three parents called me and said they were afraid and what should they do. So I used a rhetorical statement, I said people like that are like barking chihuahuas. They are a lot of bark, but no bite. Someone turned my words around, and said I called a black guy a dog which is not true."
He says the scrutiny is because of his work in pushing for more resources for minority students in the district who have low test scores.
"I believe they've been failing our children and I've expressed that in private and not so private meetings and once I did that, the attacks got on me," said Loma.
One week after posting what some call a transphobic meme, Jorgenson issued the following apology on the District 11 website. The post, now deleted, depicted a transexual person in a doctor’s office. It read, “When you're trans and you think you're pregnant,” (sic) and depicted a large amount of feces on a monitor."
Good afternoon everyone, I want to follow up to my community and constituents on the news of a personal meme I posted this past week. This was posted in satire on my personal FB story (set to only friends) and was not an appropriate thing to share as a person in my position, I can see that now and am sorry. I was not thinking about how the impact of this meme would affect various people groups in our community, it was posted in haste and was distasteful for many. I had folks from both viewpoints on this topic, as well as students and my constituents reach out to me. I did not carry myself well with this post and it is unbecoming of a person in my position to post on such a topic in the manner in which I did. I did not lead by example here and I know I negatively impacted certain people in our community, I am sorry. I know that I am to live above reproach and in the capacity of a leader among our community. I did neither of those in this post and the subsequent undue hurt and concern placed on our students, staff and community. Please forgive me and reach out if you have any additional feedback for me, as I move forward in trying to model better behavior for all.
"Tell your friends, tell your wife. You don't go and post it so all of your constituents know and now we're going to hold you accountable," said Lopez.
Loma encourages anyone with a problem with his comments or social media posts to come and talk with him. He says his door is open for conversation.