Boardmember faces community backlash
Most recent school board meeting addressed comments from a private SDUHSD Facebook page.
August 31, 2022
Last Thursday’s board meeting was another opportunity for growth, progress, and change. Unfortunately, the newsworthy story from the four-hour gathering in San Dieguito Academy’s Mustang Commons was not a pledge to brainstorm new parking solutions, nor was it a plan to increase funding for pilot programs like SDA’s Ethnic Literature class. The board members didn’t discuss how the district can improve access to mental health resources, nor did they improve the meal package to include delicious, sustainable lunch options.
Instead, the focus of the meeting, unbeknownst to the trustees, was to expose allegations against Michael Allman regarding transphobia in his private Facebook group “Families for Students First”. This article will not be detailing the content of the posts, as they are unnecessarily hateful and possibly triggering. It is important to note, however, that Michael Allman responded to the posts with laughing emojis and encouraging derision of pronoun use.
The newsworthy piece of this is not his comments, or the existence of this group-many parents and community members were already aware of the horrors going on behind Meta walls. What is remarkable is the community support that showed up at the board meeting.
SDA senior Mace Viemeister was the first to speak in the public comment section about the Facebook group, directly quoting some of the posts and asking Allman to make “a statement in support of all students of SDUHSD, regardless of gender identity.” Any responses, including one from Allman, had to wait until after the public comment section.
The head of the non-profit Encinitas-4-Equality, Mali Woods-Drake, spoke on the issue next, addressing Allman directly. Woods-Drake said that on the Facebook group, “rather than call out hate and ignorance, [he joined in]” and that he is “both the schoolyard bully who picks on others to draw attention away from [his] own insecurities and shortcomings and the enabler… who allows hate to happen.”
After that, many more adults came forward in support of transgender students, including their children, and spoke to Allman directly. Additional details about the Facebook group came to light, including a strange story about parents allegedly handing out fliers at SDA’s back-to-school night, and community members coming forward to say they had been removed from the group.
Allman was repeatedly asked to make eye contact with the people speaking, and some parents requested he stop typing while they spoke to him. After the public comment section ended, he insisted on a “rebuttal” but was met with pushback from a board member who reminded him it wasn’t on the approved agenda. Allman spoke anyways and responded to all of this with a text message screenshot in which he asked for one of the transphobic posts to be taken down, and a resolution he allegedly wrote over the past weekend that encourages staff to use students’ pronouns, but does not require the same for peers of that student.
A statement released on his public Instagram on Sunday, August 28th, reads “every life is valuable, and every person deserves respect. No one fully knows the pain of others, but we all recognize that life contains pain and uncertainty. Suicide is not funny. It is a tragedy for all concerned and everyone who is touched by it deserves empathy and understanding. Everyone should be called by the pronoun of their choice without question, ridicule, or judgement [sic]. This is unequivocally what I believe.”
Viemeister said in the second half of his speech last Thursday that “although it was disheartening to see the Facebook messages, the support [they] received… was a reminder that Allman is just one, hateful person” and that “he [takes] solace in the fact that unlike [his] teachers, Allman is rarely given the chance to interact with [his] peers.”
Students at all four district high schools are holding meetings this Thursday during lunch to discuss and take action regarding the events from the Board Meeting. At SDA, it will be in Room 107.