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San Dieguito students demand protection for their LGBTQ classmates

Dozens of students, parents and teachers demanded action and accountability for recent transphobic comments against youth in the San Dieguito Union High School District.

They attended the board of trustees meeting, Wednesday night, to speak against alleged online bullying that happened on a social media page started by one of the district’s own board members.

The group accused Michael Allman, the board’s vice president, of allowing and agreeing with derogatory comments made on a private Facebook group he created in 2020 during his school board election campaign.

The page is called SDUHSD Families for Students First and is not sanctioned by the district.

The students said those comments included people making fun of transgender students for insisting on using pronouns they choose.

"Pronouns are important because they help people feel comfortable," said San Dieguito Academy ninth grader Shanti Hershenson. "Some people are not comfortable with the pronouns they were assigned and because of that I think it is our duty as people to respect that and everyone.”

“I think that our board has shown they do not care about student opinions which they’ve blatantly said but on top of that they are participating in behavior that harms our LGBTQ+ community,” said Mace Viemeister, 17, a senior at San Dieguito Academy and a leader of the student-run Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA).

“That is not support. You can say you support students as much as you like but actions speak louder than words and there have not been actions that show that they support us,” Viemeister continued.

The group was not put on the meeting agenda because leaders did not submit the required documentation in time.

In a written statement to KPBS News, San Dieguito Union Communications Coordinator Miquel Jacobs said, “Interim Superintendent Douglas did not receive the supporting documentation. She did, however, let the students know that we would work on board consideration for the October board meeting.”

TableStudents.jpg
Photo courtesy of Robyne Ruterbusch
Téa Wagstaff, 17, and Izzy Enfinger, 17, share symbols of LGBTQ support in the Mustang Commons at San Dieguito Academy, Wednesday, Encinitas, Calif., September 14, 2022

Since they were not on the agenda, students lined up almost three hours before the meeting in order to be the first to register for the public comment session.

In an online public post earlier this month, Allman said, “Everyone should be called by the pronoun of their choice without question, ridicule, or judgment. This is unequivocally what I believe, and no one should say otherwise.”

Following the public comments at Wednesday night’s meeting, he reiterated his disapproval of the derogatory remarks on the Facebook page he created two years ago.

“This amplification was incredibly hurtful to our LGBTQI+ community and to anyone who cares about how transgender children and adults are treated in our society,” Allman said.

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