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D11 students protest after board members' controversial social media posts

D11 PROTEST.PNG
Posted at 1:58 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 16:21:23-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs School District 11 students led a protest Wednesday after some board members posted controversial social media posts.

The students also attended the school board meeting at the district administration building to call for more accountability.

Protesters say Reverend Al Loma made racist remarks and Jason Jorgenson posted a transphobic meme to his personal Facebook account.

Jorgenson has since apologized for the post that depicted a transgender person at the doctor's office. The caption read, "When you trans and you think you pregnant,” 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.
Jason Jorgenson

"My generation we don't tolerate that hate. I think it's really wrong that our school board members are promoting that hate. We don't allow others to be treated this way and we are taking a stand," said Maddy Young, Odyssey student.

Motivating Young to organize the protest at the administration building.

"I know a lot of people feeling very uncomfortable and unsafe because of them," said Young.

Students, parents, and teachers now calling on Jorgenson as well as Loma to resign their positions. Inside Out Youth Services want to see a formal reprimand of both board members, and more diversity and inclusion training.

"Students rely on us as adults to keep them safe, especially in a school environment. If the people who are making decisions about their education exhibit these views publicly and without same then it shows they might not be inclusive when the time comes to create policy or address issues of discrimination. It creates this culture of fear that ultimately doesn't serve our students, education, or mental health," said Alissa Smith, Inside Out Youth Services.

The organization wrote an open letter to school boards across the Pikes Peak Region calling for more inclusiveness. So far, it's gained over 400 signatures from the community.

During the board meeting, some tense moments.

"You called my son a pile of feces. I assure you if my student would have been in this district, I would have pulled him because of you, and you," said Sharon Jamieson, former District 11 parent. "How many of the lost students in this district are due to bullying when we have grownups that act no better than two-year-olds."

"If the roles were flipped and I said Loma had fecal matters for brains or I'm going to jump over the dais, and gangsta slap Loma, you would probably be offended and ask me to leave," said Joseph Shelton, District 11 community member.

Following public comment, Board President Dr. Parth Melpakam said he appreciated the community speaking during public comment. He went on to say feedback makes them a better school board. When it came time to give their reports, Director Julie Ott addressed the allegations against Loma and Jorgenson.

"I believe these actions by Director Jorgenson and Director Loma contribute to a hostile and threatening learning and work environment for our students and our staff, for our community members, and our D11 families. Such comments embarrass this board," Ott said.

Jorgenson offered the entire room another apology but did stick by his beliefs. Loma continued to say his words were taken out of context.

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