A Chicago school district is thinking about opening a high school for gay and lesbian teenagers. The proposed school would be open to all students, but would focus on creating a violence-free atmosphere for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and sexually questioning students.
The school proposal is still in its early stages, but it’s already drawn both praise and criticism. Conservatives say it would be a misuse of public funds and require principles to take a moral position on homosexuality, while some gay rights advocates argue that isolating gay and lesbian teens would prevent different groups of students from interacting. Supporters of the school say it would create a safe and understanding environment that would allow gay teens to emerge as community leaders.
The school wouldn’t be the first of its kind in the country, but it would be the largest. New York has a similar high school, named for San Francisco politician and gay rights advocate Harvey Milk. The school opened in 2003, and it has less than 100 students. The Chicago school is expected to hold as many as 600 students.
Experts say threats and violence against gay and lesbian teens make them more likely to drop out of school and abuse drugs and alcohol, and a 2003 survey shows that gay and lesbian youths are three times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe.
Do you think this school will help gay and lesbian teens succeed or will taking them out of mainstream schools promote intolerance?
[more on gay rights]