Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chicago mulls high school for gays

My thoughts follow this article.

Chicago mulls gay high school
By 365gay Newscenter Staff

(Chicago, Illinois) Chicago school officials are considering a plan to create a separate high school for LGBT students, but the proposal is not without its detractors - both outside and within the gay community.

LGBT advocates hail the idea, but others warn the school would isolate gay students. Conservatives call the proposal a waste of taxpayer money.

A 2005 study commissioned by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network found that gay-bashing remains a major problem in the nation’s schools.

Three-quarters of students surveyed across America said that over the past year they heard derogatory remarks such as “faggot” or “dyke” frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of 10 reported hearing “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay” - meaning stupid or worthless - frequently or often.

Over a third of students said they experienced physical harassment at school on the basis of sexual orientation and more than a quarter on the basis of their gender expression.

Nearly one-in-five students reported they had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth because of their gender expression.

The study also showed that bullying has a negative impact on learning.

LGBT students were five times more likely to report having skipped school in the last month because of safety concerns than did the general population of students.

Nevertheless, some LGBT community leaders say a separate school for gay students could give them a false sense of security and make them unprepared for life outside schoolhouse walls.

If we’re going to set up a separate school, let’s put the bullies in the school and not our gays kids,” Rick Garcia, public policy director of Equality Illinois told the Chicago Tribune. “Kids should be able to go to school in a safe environment wherever they are.”

Conservatives call the proposal for the school a misuse of public funds and charge it would require administrators to take a moral stance on homosexuality.

The plan must still undergo a series of public hearings - the first is set for Sept. 18. It then would require approval by a Chicago Public Schools evaluation team with the final decision up to the head of the school system, Arne Duncan.

The earliest it could be up and running would be 2012.

The first all-gay high school in the U.S. opened in New York City in 2003, and is named for slain San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk.


While I think it would be totally fun for gay kids to be in school only with other gay kids, I don't think it is a good idea to separate them from the general student population because they are the victims of bullying.

Rather than separating gay students to ensure a safe environment for them, the schools need to take seriously the idea of school bullying and implement measure to reduce it.

Too often school officials scoff and snicker at bullying, suggesting "kids will be kids", as if bullying (for any reason) is expected, and therefore understandable or acceptable. They chalk it up to 'hormones' and 'typical teenage behaviors', but I believe this is just an excuse for inaction. They would likely feel differently if their own child was the victim of bullying.

Rather than spending millions on a new school for gay students, why not use that money to install video cameras in the existing schools which will help administrators monitor bullying and take action against it. Students who know they are "on camera" may decided against inappropriate behavior.

I believe schools need to adopt a 'zero tolerance' policy for bullying.

First offenders should be suspended for a day. Second offenders should be suspended and sent to mandatory counseling. Repeat offenders should be expelled for the rest of the term.

I believe that if these penalties for bullying are communicated first and then implemented, students will think twice about beating up an effeminate boy while calling him a faggot.

Crush du Jour: Jason Shane Scott


Bugsy said...

I don't think its a good idea to have a separate school. People need to get along with each other, separating them doesn't do this.

Punishment is needed for offenders, but expulsion should be rare. If some kids want to get out of school, this would be a good way of doing it.

Kids should be in school, if not - what are they doing? Probably getting into trouble.

cb said...

A high school for gays?? WOW- why not just send them to a BATHHOUSE??

It would be sex central!

Bad idea.

Plus, gay kids need public schools to toughen them up and make them better 'citizens'.