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Students create Instagram forum to share experiences of discrimination in school

After just a few days, organizers count nearly 500 responses and 1,000 followers.
Credit: Nelson Garcia
Two Lakewood High School students create an Instagram page called "timesupjeffco" to give students a forum to share experiences of hate, racism, and discrimination within school.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colorado — Posted are claims of discrimination, claims of being bullied for being gay or transgender and claims of sexual assault in school. This is all part of a collection on a new Instagram page called, "timesupjeffco."

"A lot more of the graphic sexual assault stories are just horrifying," student Elyza Berry said.

Berry and her fellow Lakewood High School classmate Josh Luhan saw the same type of social media page at another school and wanted to create a forum for students to share their experiences within Jefferson County schools.

"It can feel somewhat lonely or like you're on the outside when people are constantly bringing up something like race or culture or sexual identity," Berry said.

They started the Instagram page just a few days ago.

"As of last night, we'd received over 460 responses. I think we have nearly a thousand followers which is huge in just a couple of days," Berry said. "I think that shows that we've tapped into something necessary here."

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Students must submit posts to Berry and Luhan through Google Docs before they are published. Everything on the page is kept anonymous.

"I think being anonymous makes people feel a bit more safe," Berry said.

She knows that some of the claims might not be true.

"Even if these things are false, they're believable and they're believable for a reason is that we've seen these incidents occur," Berry said.

The Jefferson County School district offered this response:

"We have a sincere interest in supporting our students and were made aware of the Instagram page just this week. We are committed to ensuring that all of our schools support student success, safety, and wellness. As a global process, we follow-up and look into reported concerns and have policies and specific processes for doing so. These include a public/parent complaint policy, student complaint policy, a staff complaint policy,  non-discrimination policies supported by our Title IX coordinator and EEO officer, school level protocols, and finally Safe2Tell to receive and address concerns. In any circumstance where we can identify a concerning situation including posts on social media, we will investigate to determine if there is sufficient information to support the complaint and then work with school administration to take appropriate action.  We want to be part of the solution and work to solve problems from the perspective that we care deeply about our students, staff and community." 

Though the name is "timesupjeffco," Berry said the time is now to address these issues.

"I would like to have this taken to our school district and for them to make changes," Berry said.

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