Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Education Secretary Pushed for Gay High School

Not only is Obama’s new pick for Education secretary, Arne Duncan, head of Chicago Public Schools a good buddy - they play basketball together - he’s been pushing for Chicago to start their first gay high school.

Public school officials in Chicago, recommended approval of a "gay-friendly" high school because harassment and violence are causing gay students to skip class and drop out at alarming rates. According to a 2003 Chicago Public School District survey, gay students are three times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe, and other studies showed similar trends across the country.

The national study, which the group says is the most comprehensive report ever on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students nationwide, found that 86.2 percent of those students reported being verbally harassed, 44.1 percent physically harassed and 22.1 percent physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. 39 states don't have laws against bullying based on sexual identity

From the Chicago Tribune:

The Chicago Public Schools’ first high school designed for gay, lesbian and transgender teens is among 20 new schools recommended to the school board today by CPS Chief Arne Duncan.

The proposed schools range from technology-focused high schools to the School for Social Justice Pride Campus, which officials said would cater to but not focus exclusively on gay youth.

Backers said they envision a small high school offering a college-preparatory curriculum in which students would take four years each of English and math, three years each of foreign languages and science, as well as fine arts and physical education. It would be a performance school, meaning it would have the same staffing and oversight requirements as other district schools.Backers said they envision a small high school offering a college-preparatory curriculum in which students would take four years each of English and math, three years each of foreign languages and science, as well as fine arts and physical education. It would be a performance school, meaning it would have the same staffing and oversight requirements as other district schools.

The announcement of the schools, which are expected to open in the fall of 2009 and 2010, took place at the Chicago International Charter School's Ralph Ellison Campus, 1817 W. 80th St. Public hearings on the proposed schools are expected before the Board of Education votes on them Oct. 22.

"If you look at national studies, you see gay and lesbian students with high dropout rates...Studies show they are disproportionately homeless," Duncan said. "I think there is a niche there we need to fill."

Supporters have said the Pride Campus would help students find a safe school environment because studies have shown that gay youth are at a greater risk of dropping out of school and abusing drugs and alcohol, and are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide. A 2003 district survey shows that gay and lesbian youths are three times more likely to miss school because they don't feel safe.

Opponents have called the move a misuse of public funds. At a recent public hearing on the proposal, some gay rights advocates have said the move would segregate these students and said the district should work more on fostering acceptance by mainstream students, teachers and other school officials.
Of course, not all are happy with the idea of a gay high school.

1 comments:

Anonymous,  20:27  

I went to a gay high school. It was a special school of the arts and the majority of students were gay. It's not such a novel idea after all.

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