Ladue students hold second walk-out over racial issues

LADUE, MO (KTVI) - Ladue High School students continued to protest Thursday against racially and sexually offensive comments and actions.

It was the second day some black and white teens walked out of class. At noon time, they held a forum to talk about how they can stand up for each other and fight harassment.

Sophomore Tajah Walker told the crowd of more than 100 students, "Words hurt and I could get up and leave this school, go to another school, but that's not going to fix the problem here."

Dan Lee, a junior at the high school, has attended school in the Ladue district since kindergarten. He said his race became apparent as a fifth-grader.

As an African-American, Lee felt he was not as respected as white students were.

“Things were solved, but they weren't solved all the way around," he said. “We just need more and more people to speak up and be bold to make the change."

Students like Lee point to degrading comments about gender, sexual orientation, and race, along with racial slurs as serious problems within the school community.

Junior Emily Lesorogol called for more conversations among students to share their personal experiences in the community and explain why those experiences matter.

“A lot of kids want this whole thing to be over and don't want to think about it,” she said. “But what really needs to happen is they need to confront it in conversations and talk with their peers."

Some of the black and white students held placards saying “Black Lives Matter.”

"People need to know the Black Lives Matter movement isn't denying the value of other lives," Lesorogol said. But black lives, in her opinion, have not been valued as highly as white lives.

The Ladue superintendent plans to meet with the president of the St. Louis County NAACP John Gaskin Friday. He is a Ladue High School alumni. They plan to discuss ways to improve understanding among students with diverse backgrounds .

Organizations like the non-profit Diversity Awareness Partnership sponsor seminars and classes for all age levels in order to build bridges with communication.

Reena Hajat Carroll said those with conflicting views need to move away from debating since it is “combative and closed-minded.”

“We have to move into a space of ‘let me hear you; let me try to understand your perspective and let’s be open to finding a solution together,’” she said.

DAP works with the Ladue School District in a program called “Give Respect, Get Respect.” The organization has been holding talks about the issues raised in the Michael Brown shooting and subsequent protests.

There will be a free seminar Friday morning at 8:30am. To register go to their website, http://www.dapstl.org.