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D11 board moves to prevent teachers from asking students their preferred pronouns

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Board members in Colorado Springs School District 11 are advocating for a new policy that would prevent teachers and staff from asking students for their preferred pronoun identities 

On Feb. 8 at a regular board meeting, D11 Board Vice President Jason Jorgenson recommended that the district amend its policies.

“I don't see it as appropriate for our staff to ask our students what their gender or pronouns or sexuality is, regardless of the age,” Jorgenson said. “I don't care if it's the senior-level high school class.”

The Board VP said that if students wish to express their preferred gender pronouns to the rest of the class then they are welcome to do so. However, he believes teachers should "stay out of it." 

“That's none of our business to be promoting that in our younger kids causing confusion,” Jorgenson added. “So we'll leave it out of the classroom.” 

D11 board member Reverend Al Loma voiced his agreement with Jorgenson, then added that he is "offended" when he hears trans people requesting preferred pronoun usage. 

“I’m kind of old-fashioned,” Loma said. “I know a boy when I see one, and I know a girl when I see one.” 

Not everyone agreed with their beliefs. Board member Julie Ott spoke out against the recommendation to teacher policies. 

“Many teachers use that as a way of honoring their students and their student's identities,” Ott protested. “Not every student is going to feel comfortable saying, ‘I’m not a she, I'm a he.’ I think we can honor inclusivity. Certainly in our upper-grade levels as children are learning about who they really are.” 

Regardless, the recommended amendment for district policy was approved by the D11 school board with four votes. 

13 Investigates reached out to Inside Out, a Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ youth services non-profit, for comment. We are still waiting on a response. However, the non-profit has posted on social media about teachers inquiring about preferred pronouns before. 

“Pronouns are important. Asking for pronouns is important,” Inside Out posted on Facebook just three days ago. “When a young person has to constantly guess at whether it is safe to share their pronouns with an adult, THAT is exhausting. It is not a burden for adults to ask for pronouns. In fact, when an adult makes the effort to ask a young person's pronouns, it removes the guesswork and creates a sense of safety for that youth. For that reason, we believe teachers must have the right to ask students for their pronouns, to make that space for them to self-identify.” 

13 Investigates also reached out to all seven board members for comment. We are waiting on a response from six of them.

D11 School Board President Parth Melpakam provided 13 Investigates a statement via email on the subject.

"The resolve of the Board, as reflected in our Board Priorities, is to ensure ALL of our students are thriving academically and achieving their personal best in a safe and inclusive school environment.  To achieve this equity goal, the Board is focused on making decisions that are student centered and staff focused.  The Board also recognizes that our parents/guardians are the child's first and lifelong teacher.  Any policy revisions that the Board proposes will reflect our emphasis to capture the parent voice in the conversation, while honoring the relationships our teachers and staff are developing with our students in the classroom."

D11 School Board President Parth Melpakam

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