(The Center Square) - A former officer at Colorado's Limon Correctional Facility is suing state agencies over their mandated diversity, equity, and inclusion training program.
Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), a nonprofit public interest law firm, filed the lawsuit this week on behalf of Joshua Young of Colorado Springs. Young alleges that the training violated his right to a discrimination-free workplace.
According to the complaint, the state's official training forced its participants to internalize racially discriminatory messages about white people and "created a racially hostile and abusive work environment" for its officers.
"State-sponsored racism is never appropriate," William Trachman, the lawyer who is representing Young, said in a statement. "Josh was forced to listen to bigoted official training telling him that he was a racist and white supremacist because of the color of his skin, and that his daily actions contributed to white supremacy. Colorado's prisons are worse off, and the state is worse off, because of this training."
Young, who resigned from his position because of the mandate, said the training bothered him because of the false and divisive messages that guards were being asked to endorse. Young added that he feared that guard morale would suffer, thereby creating an even more dangerous workplace.
"Here the state is coming in and insisting that we can't do our jobs without seeing people through the lens of skin color," Young said. "The message being delivered is that we can't trust each other to overcome our skin color, which to me seems like a very superficial thing to have to overcome."
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Denver and seeks to prevent the Department of Corrections and the Department of Public Health and Environment from continuing the training.