Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-06-26
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Harvey Milk School Offers Haven for GLBT Students
by Mubarak Dahir

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Critics of the Harvey Milk School—a New York City school for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender high school students—are misunderstanding and misrepresenting the goals and purpose of this special academy.

Contrary to the alarmist yelpings of the naysayers, the Harvey Milk School does not have as its goal the segregation and isolation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students from the mainstream. It isn't a step backward for integration or mutual understanding. It isn't some covert plot to overthrow America's school systems and set up 'Homo High Schools' all across America.

The school is simply a last-resort alternative for a small group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students who have been so harassed, so attacked in their regular school systems, that they would otherwise drop out altogethe.

For students who face that grave choice, the Harvey Milk School is their safety net. For these students, the option is usually to go to the Harvey Milk, or not to go to school at all. For them, the Harvey Milk School isn't some horrible segregationist plot—it is a chance to get their diplomas unimpeded by anti-gay tauntings and abuse. The school gives these kids hope and a chance to complete their education—to go onto a better future. For many of the kids there, it is the last hope they have for completing school.

The Harvey Milk School is a program of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which deals with GLBT youth. It's not new. The program started in 1985, as an experimental, alternative school option for very troubled gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender kids.

But the hoopla over the school started this summer after New York tabloids trumpeted the fact that the school district intends to expand the program over time from 50 to 170 students, and that the school's status will change from one of an alternative program, to one of a fully accredited high school. The expansion begins this fall, when the school plans to increase its student population from about 50 to around 100 students. The upgrade in the school is being made possible by $3.2 million from the city's Department of Education.

The fact that taxpayer money is being used to elevate the school has critics up in arms. The argument is that the public shouldn't have to pay for gay segregation.

In fact, one of the school's harshest critics, New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz, a Bronx Democrat, has even brought a lawsuit against the school. His suit claims the school is illegal because it violates the Education Department's and the city's laws against bias based on sexual orientation. He also claims any money going to a 'gay school' is illegal because it sets up a special class of students, effectively creating illegal segregation, and thus robbing money from other schools.

One has to wonder about Sen. Diaz's newfound concerns for gay and lesbian students, and his sudden interest in gay civil rights. After all, this is the same man who once tried to stop the Gay Games from happening in New York City, fearing that the event would spread AIDS.

But part of the mission of any city's public education system is to create an atmosphere where all kids can get a proper education. For the kids who voluntarily enroll in the Harvey Milk School, it's obvious that the school system is failing them at their 'regular' schools. The fact that the Harvey Milk School has a nearly 20-year track record of helping such kids, and the fact that there is already a waiting list to get into it, shows that the school is working.

The existence of the school, and its expansion, is also evidence that the school system is failing to protect and educate GLBTs.

No one wants to weed out gay and lesbian kids from schools, and isolate or segregate them into a school ghetto. In a more perfect world, kids would learn from one another at school that sexual diversity is natural, normal and healthy. But we don't live in that perfect world. That doesn't mean that the school systems shouldn't continue to improve programs and diversity training and protection safeguards at all public schools. Some day, maybe a place like the Harvey Milk School won't be necessary.

But in the meantime, we shouldn't turn our backs on the students who feel so hassled, so picked on, that they would rather give up their education—and thus likely their futures —rather than face the daily horror of their school lives. To Sen. Diaz and the other critics of this program, I have to ask: Where were you when these kids were getting hounded out of school?

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Gay tourism group cancels Ethopian trip after death threats 2019-06-26 - Dan Ware, the owner of Chicago-based Toto Tours—which has a mostly gay clientele—has cancelled an October trip to Ethiopia after receiving death threats ...

Gay News

Gay entrepreneur hopes to reach others through digital marketing 2019-06-26 - After years navigating the corporate world as a marketing professional for corporations like AT&T and Petsmart, Chris Hofstetter was ready for reinvention. Looking ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Kamala Harris, military poll, gay-bar attack, Cracker Barrel 2019-06-25 - Presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris is introducing a bill to reduce the transmission of HIV by encouraging the use of PrEP, or ...

Gay News

Indiana school refuses to fire gay teacher, loses Catholic status 2019-06-22 - The Archbishop of Indianapolis asked a Jesuit school to fire a teacher who is in a same-sex marriage—but it refused to do so, ...

Gay News

Point Foundation announces 2019 scholarships to 41 LGBTQ students 2019-06-19 - LOS ANGELES, JUNE 19, 2019 — Point Foundation ( Point ), the nation's largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer ...

Gay News

Gay Holocaust film being shown June 20 2019-06-17 - The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie, will show the documentary Dear Fredy on Thursday, June 20, 6:30-8 p.m. ...

Gay News

Thirty-six sports confirmed for Gay Games 11 in Hong Kong 2022 2019-06-12 - HONG KONG/SAN FRANCISCO, 31 May 2019 - The Federation of Gay Games ( FGG ) together with the Gay Games 11 Hong Kong ...

Gay News

Iran defends killing of gay people 2019-06-12 - The United States accused Iran of violating fundamental human rights after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif endorsed the execution of gay people, ...

Gay News

WORLD Trans woman murdered, gay-sex laws, trans mayor 2019-06-04 - A transgender woman was murdered and decapitated during the weekend of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia ( IDAHOBIT ) in the ...

Gay News

Gay teens claim bias by Big Boy Gyros 2019-05-29 - Two teens from Lane Tech High School—Kendall Anderson and Peder Sevig—have accused Big Boy Gyros, 3541 N. Western Ave., of anti-LGBT discrimination stemming ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.