Join 3,520 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


GLBT High School in NYC
July 28, 2003 11:26 AM   Subscribe

First Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender public high school to open in New York City. "I think everybody feels that it's a good idea because some of the kids who are gays and lesbians have been constantly harassed and beaten in other schools." says NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but couldn't the same argument have been used against the racial integration of schools in the 1950s?
posted by 4easypayments (87 comments total)

 
additional info: Harvey Milk High School Homepage
posted by 4easypayments at 11:29 AM on July 28, 2003


*boop*boop*boop*

Sound of progress backing up.
posted by agregoli at 11:29 AM on July 28, 2003


Sorry, I think this is horrible. I thought we had already established that 'separate but equal' is a fallacy and doesn't work. The issue at hand is to foster acceptance in society in general, not to ship 'unwanteds' away so the breeders won't have to deal with them. This does nothing but further the notion that homosexuals are 'other' and not like everyone else. Misguided.
posted by widdershins at 11:32 AM on July 28, 2003


Great sentiment...provide a safe-haven for open gays/lesbians/bi-sexuals. Absolutely terrible implementation. This sounds so ridiculously obvious to say, and yet here goes: The way to harmony within society is through open interaction and expression, not segregation and labelling.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:34 AM on July 28, 2003


It looks like it's an optional plan. I'm not saying it's "good" or "bad", but the student has a choice to go there. Maybe the ones that choose to go there were close to dropping out elsewhere (or having other problems, high school is hard enough for any teenager) because they weren't adapting and needed an option.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 11:41 AM on July 28, 2003


Why am I flashing on that episode of the Simpsons when Nelson is caught by his buddies kissing Lisa, and Jimbo says:

"You kissed a girl. That so gay!"
posted by jonmc at 11:43 AM on July 28, 2003


I think it's a good idea only if a student has to request a transfer in from a regular public high school. It's a bad idea if people are forced to be sent there after being recognized as gay to "avoid harassment." The difference is that there's now a choice - it's no different than attending an all-boys or all-girls school assuming no one is forced to attend.
posted by Veritron at 11:45 AM on July 28, 2003


There's no direct parallel between the racially segregated schools of the pre-civil rights era. Back then, the majority wanted to keep the minority out. This is an opt-in system for the minority to choose.

I still think it's a bad idea, though.
posted by jpoulos at 11:46 AM on July 28, 2003


So Veritro, can I go to she school for chubby kids with glasses who get picked last in kickball? School is harsh, deal with it.
posted by remlapm at 11:47 AM on July 28, 2003


What pretty much everyone else said. Would anyone be applauding this if it were an "alternative school" just for Asians, or Jews, or red-heads?

The difference is that there's now a choice

Sort of. Eexcept that now every time a gay kid gets picked on at a regular school, their guidance counselor or dean is going to urge them strongly to go to Harvey Milk High. It'll quickly become not so much a choice as a requirement.
posted by me3dia at 11:50 AM on July 28, 2003


The upside is, of course, that the prom decorations will be amazing.
posted by jonmc at 11:50 AM on July 28, 2003


"Everybody feels that it's a good idea because some of the kids who are gays and lesbians have been constantly harassed and beaten in other schools and this lets them get an education without having to worry...."

God forbid we should actually fix that. Oh, the foolishness of applying those long-touted "zero tolerance" policies to the intolerant delinquents doing the harrassing and beating! Nope, easier to ship the problem across town.

Let's all lift the most LGBT drink we can think of, and drink to the idea that someday this won't be considered "necessary."

(Oh dear, for a minute there it sounded like I was for a zero thinking, er, um, zero tolerance policy!)
posted by ilsa at 11:51 AM on July 28, 2003


Amazing wonderful fantastic incredible

After a century of forced integration that didn't work ... finally a place to learn where you don't need to duck and cover every morning

& a whole new meaning to the words "School sucks!"
posted by Twang at 11:52 AM on July 28, 2003


Harvey Milk opened in 1984
posted by mdn at 11:52 AM on July 28, 2003


They already have public schools for gays--they're called "arts magnets."
posted by pjdoland at 11:53 AM on July 28, 2003


jonmc, I doubt my decorations are as pretty as yours, to be honest but I don't mind, 'cos I think you raggin' on us for that is similar to raggin' on a jewish momma for her family values (",)

seriously tho: the real homohating-batwielding-monobrows will know exactly where to gather for a fag-bashing now, won't they?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:58 AM on July 28, 2003


Of course this is a stupid idea. No one ever said that growing up gay in a society that generally disapproves of homosexuality is going to easy. It's actually very hard. Gay kids will eventually become gay adults, and the sooner that they learn how to deal with outrageous and unfair abuse and other prejudice (that they will face in life), the better. Moreover, by continuing to be exposed to gay people, the straight students will be forced to learn how to tolerate gay people, whether they like it or not. None of this will be accomplished if the gay students are sent away (or choose to go) to a "special school" isolated from everyone else.
posted by Durwood at 12:01 PM on July 28, 2003


Anyone ever play that game 'Rival Schools: United by Fate'?
posted by LexRockhard at 12:01 PM on July 28, 2003


Maybe it's just me being argumentative the person who told me about this, but when they brought it up to me, I said, "so? What's the harm?" Sure, there's a downside, but if these kids are opting to go there and they're happy, I have a hard time being down on it. Assuming, of course, that the school isn't acting as a bubble.

On preview: Moreover, by continuing to be exposed to gay people, the straight students will be forced to learn how to tolerate gay people, whether they like it or not.

You have a point.
posted by adampsyche at 12:04 PM on July 28, 2003


I saw a documentary on a school like this a few months ago. I don't remember what school it was though.

I came away from the program with the impression that the amount of harassment and cruelty was even higher than in a regular high school. Harassment happens because kids are cruel and clichish. I think this school pretends the problem is something it isn't.

I spent a great deal of time hanging out with a gay, bi, lesbian crowd in my 20s. I don't really have a problem with it, but I always felt they were less tolerant than most straights.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:10 PM on July 28, 2003


not segregation and labelling.
Understand the why's here but;
Don't get labeling activities/places gay; Gay High, Gay Bar, Gay Sex. Yes, sex may make you happy, getting intoxicated may make you happy too, not sure about going to school. But why do places/activities have to be labeled so folks will participate or attend them. My-self makes me; not just where I go or what I do. Either you enjoy the activity/place or you don't. Never knew a places/activities to be happy by name alone.

They already have public schools for gays--they're called "arts magnets."
pjdoland, what education do you have for your work, I ask because you have shown you not good at commenting so Ann Landers your not.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:10 PM on July 28, 2003


I don't see why it's necessary now to expand the program; it's almost certainly easier now for gay kids to deal with being where they are. I imagine this happened because it's only recently become chic to fund gay projects (even when the city's almost broke).

Still, this place does pretty good work as far as the tough cases are concerned -- it's always been more a last resort for people who are too scared to go back to the schools they've been attending than a long-term alternative option.

So Veritro, can I go to she school for chubby kids with glasses who get picked last in kickball? School is harsh, deal with it.

Being afraid for your life rises a little bit above standard high school angst, don't you think?
posted by Epenthesis at 12:10 PM on July 28, 2003


Moreover, by continuing to be exposed to gay people, the straight students will be forced to learn how to tolerate gay people, whether they like it or not.

Who exactly will do this forcing, and on what planet?
posted by kindall at 12:12 PM on July 28, 2003


I spent a great deal of time hanging out with a gay, bi, lesbian crowd in my 20s. I don't really have a problem with it, but I always felt *they* were less tolerant than most straights.

whysixwhysixwhysix - thomcatspike is talking to you...
posted by dash_slot- at 12:13 PM on July 28, 2003


Gay kids will eventually become gay adults, and the sooner that they learn how to deal with outrageous and unfair abuse and other prejudice

A few months ago I was sitting in a bar in the West Village, an area with a heavy gay population. 2 luggy blue collar Noo Yawk elbow benders were watching people parade by on the street. A depilated bodybuilder in skintight shorts and tank top walked past,a nd one of 'em joked that you "could toast marshmallows off 'im from across a two-way street."

He looked at me for a response. I shrugged and said "It's the Village, man"

He said, "yeah, but because they're fags don't mean they ain't tough. One time I was out partyin' back in the 80's and these two guys were walkin' arm in arm and some kid yelled out 'FAG!' and the guy went back and hit him so fuckin' hard he busted his nose. They ain't pushovers"

I tell this story to say a couple things. One, the gay guy in that story knows how to deal with bigotry Big Apple style and two, in a city where even a couple barroom lugs like those two guys have given gays grudging acceptance, is this all really neccessary?
posted by jonmc at 12:17 PM on July 28, 2003


Some high schools are tolerant, some are not. I'm going into my senior year in high school, I'm straight, I have a perfect weight for my height, and I am 5' 11'', I haven't been bullied since I was in second grade, and I'll freely admit that most of the people that complain about discrimination and such in schools are total pussies; however, that doesn't make their complaints less valid.

I live in Connecticut in a rich suburb, and I can count the number of black people that go to my school on one hand. Despite our school's effort to implement programs to make us more "tolerant of differences," I still see kids walking around with Confederate flags, and making derogatory statements about black people. The "gay-straight" alliance club is still the butt of cruel jokes, and though closeted gays tend to make it through our school system with no problem whatsoever, and people who make their "aberrant" preferences known become gossip-icons and targets for derision by the entire school. I've seen it, and it's utterly maddening - I think that kind of attention would really be unnecessary, and probably would be somewhat detrimental to one's psychological health. Sure, high school kids could just not come out of the closet, but the mere fact that they need to do to not be ridiculed is proof that the vast majority of people are rather unenlightened in that regard. There may be people that have no problem with homosexuality, but there are an equal number of homophobes, and I don't expect every gay teenager to have to either conceal his identity or try to overcome the ingrained prejudice of millions of people. There should be an option for the gays who aren't so brave, who just want to grow up without being made fun of, and I think that kind of school may be such an option.
posted by Veritron at 12:18 PM on July 28, 2003


So we're going to open a school that only admits Gay, Lesbian, BiSexual and Transgender students?

Read: discrimination.
posted by tomorama at 12:20 PM on July 28, 2003


Who exactly will do this forcing, and on what planet?

Maybe forcing is the wrong word, but at least there's exposure.
posted by adampsyche at 12:20 PM on July 28, 2003


Is it possible for such a school to exist without the students feeling like they must overcompensate for being the "gay school" -- test scores, sports, etc?

I would think that the seamless integration of any "at-risk" population would be the first and foremost priority. Any minority is part of the community at large and shunting them off to a special aquarium would prove detrimental to living in the larger society.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:28 PM on July 28, 2003


Reverse discrimination is still discrimination. But it's always been easier to segregate/discriminate than it is to address the real problem ... namely the USA's backwards and Puritan views toward sexuality.

So instead of creating well-integrated and adjusted young adults, we're faced with an idea of schooling that will pump out Castro clones. Lovely.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:29 PM on July 28, 2003


I think it's worth remembering that on a social level, for many people the big moments in high school are first kisses, first dates, first fucks, first loves - things that gay kids at regular high schools will be seriously unlikely to experience, simply due to the percentages of openly gay high school students... also, re: the gay students will become gay adults argument, remember that self-segregation is not uncommon among gay adults, either. If you live in the west village or the castro, you will probably not come across straight people any more commonly than a student at harvey milk (which is to say, you will come across them often, but you will also have a pocket of your life where gay people are in the majority).

I can't say it's an ideal solution, exactly, but considering that minority populations are actually a minority of the population, it's impossible to make environments equal with regard to race and sexual orientation. Minorities often choose a "minority" based school, like going to a historically black college, or going to high school in a latin neighborhood, or whatever. Adults who belong to minorities also not uncommonly choose to work in their communities, to attend churches that lean toward their background or orientation, to live in neighborhoods with a certain demographic, etc. In a way it's kind of sad, but in another way it's really no big deal; it's not like it's absolute separation, or that it's what everyone chooses.
posted by mdn at 12:41 PM on July 28, 2003


Veritron, so you haven't been bullied since second grade, disclose to us that you are rich and have a "perfect weight for your height" which is rather tall, and then you are going to call people who complain about discrimination pussies?

Aside from that, you are not making a whole lotta sense. As a straight person, don't begin to imagine what is more psychologically damaging to a teenager, being forced to live a lie out of fear of being abused by your peers or being abused by your peers but living an honest life.

How do you know the closeted gays are making it through your system with no problem whatsoever? Are you in their heads? And if you know which ones are gay then it sounds like they aren't closeted.

Sounds to me like you just want the aberrants out of your school.
posted by archimago at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2003


things that gay kids at regular high schools will be seriously unlikely to experience, simply due to the percentages of openly gay high school students

I'd buy this, except I know tons of gay teenagers all over the USA who've learned to use the Internet ... specifically AOL, gay.com and xy.com ... to meet and socialize, even romance, other gay teenagers.

(insert cranky old man "When I was a teenager, we had to look at the back of Hustler magazines to see evidence that homosexuality even existed" rant here)
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:48 PM on July 28, 2003


Ever the fan, I just want to point out some irony from the article:

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long criticized the creation of the school.

"Is there a different way to teach homosexuals? Is there gay math? This is wrong," Long said. "There's no reason these children should be treated separately."


Years ago this would be a very liberal viewpoint. I wonder if he'll still be saying that "there's not reason gays should be treated separately" when it comes to things like gay adoption and marriage.
posted by adzuki at 12:53 PM on July 28, 2003


"thomcatspike is talking to you..."

[shrug] We disagree.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:54 PM on July 28, 2003


(insert cranky old man "When I was a teenager, we had to look at the back of Hustler magazines to see evidence that homosexuality even existed" rant here)

Actually, it was a kid in my class when I was around 6. When I visited his house, he liked to put on hairspray and/or his sisters tights and jump around until his mom pounded on the cieling and yelled "are you wearing your sisters clothes again?" I thought it was strange, but didn't put it all together till about 4th grade, when I figured out what "fag" and "homo" actually meant. I was smaller than him, he also liked to chase me around with a stick and make me cry. He didn't go to the public high school so I lost track of him. His family had money, so I imagine he's running a corporation now. Either that or dancing at the Palladium in a cage.

True story.
posted by jonmc at 1:03 PM on July 28, 2003


I don't see how anyone thinks this will turn into a harassment-free haven. I went to a magnet school for the math and sciences (read: geek commune) for my last two years of high school. I loved it, but it was light-years from perfect. All of us had at some point been belittled for actually caring about our studies or being "nerds" at our old schools, but we still found plenty of reasons to seperate and harass each other once inserted in a community of like students.

Bizaarely, it was often for being too average (ie, wearing makeup, voting for Bush in 2000, not knowing who The Squirrel Nut Zippers are, wearing clothes with name brands) that people caught flack. I guess it served some sort of twisted revenge on all those who tortured us for not being average. That's human nature, we more often define ourselves by what we are not, than what we are, and we need to belong to some group.

I'm not saying that people would be harrassed for "acting straight" but its a possibility. I mean, are kids going to have to prove their non-heterosexuality before being allowed to attend? Personally, I think my having spent many a Friday evening with my local community Outright group gave me everything good this school says it can offer (support, peers, safety) without defining my entire social and academic life by who I find sexy. I think this is a midguided albeit well-intentioned idea.
posted by nelleish at 1:05 PM on July 28, 2003


how is this any different than, say, a school only for x-men?
posted by mcsweetie at 1:17 PM on July 28, 2003 [1 favorite]


As an extension: I don't think this sort of school will help any LGBTQ youth integrate their sexuality as simply part of themselves. An important part, surely, but it's not all there is to a person.

I have a friend currently attending school in NYC who is very caught up in "being gay," only having gay friends, only going to gay clubs, talking about being gay constantly on his website. I don't deny this is an important part of coming out, most everyone passes through it, but I don't think it's a good place to spend your whole life. Chosing any one thing about your psyche to define your entire self-hood is unhealthy, and I'm concerned how exactly Harvey Milk intends on serving their students as people first, and gay second.
posted by nelleish at 1:18 PM on July 28, 2003


actually, now that I think about it, this isn't that far removed from a school only for blind children, or for girls/boys. sure, it's discrimination, but I imagine it's a far better learning enviroment for those individuals. it's not their fault the rest of the world is stuck in the 20th century.
posted by mcsweetie at 1:22 PM on July 28, 2003


how is this any different than, say, a school only for x-men?

Are you suggesting a gay sentinel program?
posted by COBRA! at 1:23 PM on July 28, 2003


I actually liked your X-Men analogy, mcsweetie, as I've viewed the X-Men specifically as homosexual allegory.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:23 PM on July 28, 2003


Back in the dark ages before the internet, a lot of those kids were seriously isolated. I used to work at an 800 # for gay teens, and we would get dozens of calls every day from kids who had somehow found our number and just wanted to talk to another gay person, just for a minute, just to know we were out there and safe. Harvey Milk had just opened, and kids were running away to try to get to NYC to go school. (I seriously doubt many of them actually re-enrolled once they got to the Big City.)
It's not the kids in NYC, or the kids who live near a Community Youth Center for GLBT teens, that I worry about. It's the kids in Minnasota or Iowa or New Mexico or Texas. That's why the internet is Our Friend.
posted by pomegranate at 1:25 PM on July 28, 2003


I actually liked your X-Men analogy, mcsweetie, as I've viewed the X-Men specifically as homosexual allegory.

yup.
posted by COBRA! at 1:27 PM on July 28, 2003


You people do understand that gay/lesb/trans youth are entitled to an education and they are entitled to learn history and english and math and physics without being in physical danger and or emotional danger. I'm assuming that you also realize, as you are so quick to comment on a school that would provide a safe place for gay/lesbian/transgendered outh, that non-straight youth are way more likely to committ suicide, or to be killed (yes in NYC) for their sexual orientation. You also realize, that, as straight people you should be thankful for all of the wonderful gay people in your lives that have made you more tolerant, but that it is actually YOUR responsibility to become more tolerant.

Saying that children should risk their lives so that a bunch of bigots might become more enlightened is ridiculous.
posted by goneill at 1:30 PM on July 28, 2003


A GLBT high school sounds as if it's a similar idea to all girl schools or all boy . An environment where it's safe and the kids aren't distracted by outside social sexual issues (the straight kids stop preening for for the ones they're attracted to, in GLBT they could stop worrying about hiding or being picked on.)

As long as it's optional, I think it's a great idea.
posted by Red58 at 1:33 PM on July 28, 2003


I understand many of the views here, but ... Something most straight people (especially white male straight people) are not likely to fully understand is the value and importance for those in a minority group to have an enviroment where solely that group is present. Ever hear of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival - where they don't allow men to attend? Black fraternities and sororities in college? Same thing. I belong to a club for kinky gay men that has a yearly retreat-like event where it's nothing but like-minded guys for a week. It's a very powerful experience that makes dealing with the rest of the world much easier.

If I'd had access to some sort of environment for gays-only when I was in high school it would have done me no end of good. Admittedly, a whole such school wasn't really necessary for me, but for others who face harsher environments than I did it might be.
posted by dnash at 1:37 PM on July 28, 2003


You also realize, that, as straight people you should be thankful for all of the wonderful gay people in your lives that have made you more tolerant, but that it is actually YOUR responsibility to become more tolerant.

True. But I also think that us non-homophobic straight folk have a role to play, as well. Namely, letting gay people know that not all of us are against them. It not a difficult conclusion to come to internally. As a kid, I said fag and queer like everyone else, but as I got older and read more as a teenager, I learned that a lot of people I admired were gay or gay friendly. I kept that realization to myself, of course, because saying that in 1980's suburbia was enough to get you branded as gay yourself, at least in the crowds I ran in*. A gutless move on my part? Maybe, but that's the way things were.

But things have changed at least somewhat. More and more people, at least in urban and suburban areas, pretty much take homosexuality for granted. I just wonder if separating gay youth from other youth is the best wary to move from tolerance to acceptance and then finally to embracement. My gf teaches highschool in a ghetto neighborhood in the bronx and one of her students is openly gay. Whenever any of the students makes a crack she says that she won't tolerate that, and the students for the most part have backed down. That, and security guards doing their jobs might be a solution as well. Otherwise, I fear that it just encourages more separation and triballism. And after all, these kids still have to go home to their neighborhoods at night.

*oddly, we were all big Judas Priest fans. I had a poster of them over my bed. Go figure. Maybe Halford's coming out helped change some of us
posted by jonmc at 1:43 PM on July 28, 2003


It's the kids in Minnasota or Iowa or New Mexico or Texas.

and

without being in physical danger and or emotional danger.

I came out of the closet in 1983, as a senior in high school, in a small redneck high school in New Mexico. The worst physical and emotional danger came from my family who disowned me and threw me out of the house at fifteen (which is why I didn't come out of the closet at school then). I got nothing but support when I did finally come out at school -- or at the worst people just ignored me -- from staff and students.

That children should risk their lives so their ignorant families (and clergy, in many cases) might become enlightened is even more ridiculous. Education about homo/bi/non-straight-sexuality should start in the home. As always, though, many many many parents would rather deny the subject--any sex-related subject-- entirely, then sue the school system for handing out condoms or presenting positive gay imagery.

where it's nothing but like-minded guys for a week

That's a far cry from being in school for four years for 9 months out each of those years with nothing but like-minded people.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:44 PM on July 28, 2003


"Saying that children should risk their lives so that a bunch of bigots might become more enlightened is ridiculous."

Well....... I'd say *someone* has issues........

Also ridiculous: Sarcastic, angry demands that people be more tolerant.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:50 PM on July 28, 2003


ditto remlapm. public schools are woefully underfunded. how is it a good idea to spend public monies to protect a single group of young people from reality? are you people that support this, ready to go tit for tat about vouchers for any group who wants their own school?
posted by danOstuporStar at 1:55 PM on July 28, 2003


The upside is, of course, that the prom decorations will be amazing.

Well, jonmc, who was it whining about southerners being called stupid and the religious delusional? I think the word "bigot" was bandied about?
posted by McBain at 2:06 PM on July 28, 2003


I actually liked your X-Men analogy, mcsweetie, as I've viewed the X-Men specifically as homosexual allegory.

well excuuuuuse me!
posted by mcsweetie at 2:10 PM on July 28, 2003


Here's an article originally from Dallas Morning News that has some fuller background on the type of kids a school like this is for.

The 15-year-old, who was born female but prefers to be referred to as a male, came with a story not unlike an after-school special...Classmates once tried to super-glue Angel to a desk chair at the teen's old school near Raleigh, N.C. Students got up if Angel sat down at their table at lunch. Angel avoided the restrooms because of harassment from the girls, and the principal threatened suspension if Angel used the boys' restroom. And teachers told Angel's mother that the teen brought on all the problems by looking and acting different.

Dealing with being picked last for teams in gym is one thing - fearing for bodily injury or worse is quite another. And with teachers blaming the victims instead of helping as they ought to be, it seems that unfortunately a school like Harvey Milk is a necessary thing.
posted by dnash at 2:15 PM on July 28, 2003


"Saying that children should risk their lives so that a bunch of bigots might become more enlightened is ridiculous."

There's nothing like positive models for expressing oneself. A negative, hostile or even neutral environment, surrounded by people whose identity is unlike your own, is a starvation environment. Childen in unstimulating environments learn more slowly, if at all. Children who are abused develop negative self-images.

On the other hand, such a school is at least potentially a positive enviroment, with teachers likely to be sympathetic and even helpful in creating a positive self-image and encouraging positive self-expression.

Yeah, there will be hatred or at least ignorance in the outside world. And they will learn that regardless of whether they go to school. The difference is that they will encounter people who do not have the agenda of pecking them into the ground and making them hate themselves for being different.

Encourages more tribalism? Who the hell is worried about tribalism? Look at our society. Gated communities. Ethnic neighborhoods in most major cities. Middle-class and upper-middle-class and rich neighborhoods. & on & on. That's how we sort out how we are and who we belong with. It's the American way. The melting pot never happened.
posted by Twang at 2:17 PM on July 28, 2003


I actually liked your X-Men analogy, mcsweetie, as I've viewed the X-Men specifically as homosexual allegory.

yup.


So you mean, kitty and storm.....?
posted by signal at 2:21 PM on July 28, 2003


I was given the option of going to a single-sex or a co-ed high school. I chose the co-ed one because, well, I wanted to get laid. If I was gay, I'd go to Harvey Milk for exactly the same reason.

And since when has high school been a "safe environment" for anyone? School is the only opportunity you will have in life where you have no choice but to interact with people you would purposely avoid as an adult. That is its reason for existence -- it is designed to socialize you into the wider community.

I'm sure Harvey Milk High will have the same percentage of vindictive asshole teenagers as everywhere else.
posted by dydecker at 2:23 PM on July 28, 2003


So you mean, kitty and storm.....?

Storm was just showing her the ropes, is all...

but actually, the arc where they inroduced Kitty was a prime example: in her early teens she becomes aware that she's different somehow, but she's not sure how; she's afraid to let her parents know what's going on; and so on
posted by COBRA! at 2:27 PM on July 28, 2003


goneill and dnash have it exactly right...this isn't a school for any old gay and lesbian teen--it's for those kids whose lives are in danger at their neighborhood high school. This isn't about assholes taunting, but real hospital-admitting violence.

You can discuss whose fault it is that they cant go to regular schools, but don't dare deny them the right to an education...before Harvey Milk existed, these kids dropped out and went on the streets...Is there anyone who would say that was better?
posted by amberglow at 2:35 PM on July 28, 2003


If this were simply a school for abused kids who cannot attend school without a level of harassment that keeps them from learning and living safely, regardless of the reason for harassment, then this would be a different issue. The fact is, if someone dressed and acted in a very bizarre fashion, equatable to the example in dnash's article, but not for reasons related to their sexuality, they would likely face a similar level of harassment but would not be offered the option to attend a school like Harvey Milk.
If abuse is the problem, then create an environment free from abuse, not free from heterosexuals.
posted by Wingy at 2:45 PM on July 28, 2003


Having read this thread, I'm shocked that any homosexuals lived to adulthood. I could have sworn that I saw one or two gay classmates at my graduation ceremony, and that they were smiling! Obviously, I was mistaken, because I have just learned that all homosexuals either die at the hands of a torch-wielding mob or wither under constant threats unless they're isolated with similarly-inclined people as teenagers.

Most high school students are hazed and bullied. Then you grow up and it doesn't matter. If you give gay kids a separate high school under the pretense of protecting them from harassment, then you have to give one to the chess/D and D kids, the hippies and the fat kids. Fair is fair.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:49 PM on July 28, 2003


I've viewed the X-Men specifically as homosexual allegory.

A friend of mine is friends with Bryan Singer, and you are 100% right on the money. The parallels are very much intentional.
posted by 4easypayments at 2:55 PM on July 28, 2003


I hope they have a football team that kicks everyone's ass.
posted by punkrockrat at 2:57 PM on July 28, 2003


if you want to start a school for chess / d&d kids, or hippies, or fat kids, what's stopping you?

Actually, schools for math/sci geeks wld probably match the first category pretty well, and "alternative" schools could be considered hippie schools, so you may not have much work to do after all. As for fat schools, there are already summer camps, anyway...

I don't remember a single openly gay kid at my high school (I graduated in 1991). I'm sure it's different there now, but at the time there was sure no gay-straight alliance or anything. When Harvey Milk was started, I really doubt many high schools were comfortable places for openly gay kids. The fact that the school is getting additional funding at this stage is really just proof that it will cease to be as necessary as it once was. The kids who went there used to hang out on astor place and it was a pretty ethnically diverse group, with plenty of kids from poor neighborhoods less educated about homosexuality. I think a lot of the kids were runaways, too.
posted by mdn at 3:03 PM on July 28, 2003


IMHO we need to enforce the rules of society in public schools, and that would solve a lot of this.

What is "bullying and teasing" in high school is "assault and harassment" in the workplace. For some odd reason, it's seen as harmless or "a phase" in high school, and the victims are told it doesn't matter, etc. That is a heaping pile of bullshit, and should not be confused with a rational argument.

In my experience, the people that were out of control in high school are still out of control. Most people don't just "grow out of" bigotry and violence. Failing to recognize these traits as a problem just enforces the behavior.
posted by zekinskia at 3:04 PM on July 28, 2003


that would be "reinforces the behavior" *cough*
posted by zekinskia at 3:05 PM on July 28, 2003


Even though I agree that high school bigotry shouldn't be tolerated, I want to run with another point here. Different kids need different things. I taught at a small alternative school where the non-mainstream kids sorted themselves out. Most of them loved it there and flourished in ways that would not have been possible at the mainstream school. (And then I have a non-mainstream friend who stayed at the mainstream school and yet still turned out well-adjusted.) There are positives and negatives to the Harvey Milk solution, but on the whole I'd say it rates positively, because having an extra option for students who vary so much is likely to help. Not every LGBT student will fit in the mainstream school box.
posted by win_k at 3:19 PM on July 28, 2003


--Understand the why's here but; Don't get labeling activities/places gay; Gay High, Gay Bar, Gay Sex. Yes, sex may make you happy, getting intoxicated may make you happy too, not sure about going to school.

Just for fun, let's see Thomcatspike's inscrutable little piece of ee cummings-style prose broken into verse:

Understand
  the why's here

but;

Don't get labeling activities/places gay;
  Gay High,   Gay Bar,   Gay Sex.

Yes, sex
may make you
h  a  p  p  y,

getting intoxicated
  may make you happy too--
      not sure about
    going
      to
        school.
posted by dhoyt at 4:00 PM on July 28, 2003


Sorry--just a creative urge that's been tempting me for a long time.
posted by dhoyt at 4:00 PM on July 28, 2003


Don't tell Lance someone stole his idea.
posted by solistrato at 4:03 PM on July 28, 2003


No matter what colour you paint it, this is a bad idea in my book. I certainly feel for those who have been bullied, picked on, beaten up and generally harassed at school, because I was one of them. Not because I was gay or black or anything else, just because I was targeted for some unknown reason by the tough kids. In those days, having divorced parents (which I did) was enough to turn you into an outcast. The only thing that stopped the continual beatings was one day, when a group of the tough kids were having some fun with me, I went into a red rage and absolutely beat the living crap out of the leader of the group, who was considered the best fighter in the school. They were a bit wary of me after that.

My point being that, no matter how well you filter people into groups based on whatever criteria you choose, there are going to be kids who will get picked on and harassed for no particular reason. Does anyone really think that there will not be segregation of groups at this school, based on even finer definitions that a more eclectic collection of kids? Does anyone really think that the group dynamics of this school will be significantly different to any other high school?
posted by dg at 4:04 PM on July 28, 2003


That is awesome dhoyt - it actually makes sense that way (sort of).
posted by dg at 4:05 PM on July 28, 2003


As a gay kid in high school, I was too terrified to come out, partly because I didn't have any other openly gay kids to look up to. In general, I'd like to see queer youth stay in regular schools, for the benefit of their closeted colleagues and for the purpose of socializing the other little brutes. ;-)

Still, there are lots of good arguments in favor of queer schools. Unfortunately, these types of schools are not going to be located where they are most needed: in the conservative locales of "Red" (as opposed to Blue) America, where queer kids are really under threat. In most mainstream high schools in major cities, it's already possible to find any number of quirky cliques who would be accepting of queer youth. So, in a sense, I think a lot of this debate is bullshit. These schools represent one of a few options, for very, very few kids who are - in relative terms - already in fairly safe environments. (Yes, yes, obvious disclaimers apply.)

The main objective should, as many of you have noted, be to create the enabling circumstances for safe and moderately happy learning and socializing, everywhere, for every kid. We're a long, long, long way off from that.
posted by stonerose at 5:10 PM on July 28, 2003


Well, jonmc, who was it whining about southerners being called stupid and the religious delusional? I think the word "bigot" was bandied about?

McBain: If you read any of my other comments in this thread, you's know that the prom decorations comment was just a joke, and no harm was meant, and ayone who knows me at all would realize that. The comments about southerners and religious folk in other threads had real venom behind them, at least to me, plus both groups are perennial whipping boys in this neck of the virtual woods, so I figured I'd show up the so-called "enlightened".

But, I've always respected you, McBain, and you've generally been freindly to me, so if I offended I apologize.
posted by jonmc at 6:30 PM on July 28, 2003


Solistrato, you have just shown me the face of God. Lance Arthur's essay was even better than the movie 28 Days Later.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 6:32 PM on July 28, 2003


i think it's important to take note that in nyc there probably is a publicly funded chess school, a publicly funded d&d school an art schoo, a computer nerd school, a music school, a hippy kid school, etc. there are a ton of alternative high schools that the city funds. it's not about vouchers. queer kids are under threat more outside of nyc, but a teenage girl was just killed for telling boys who were coming onto her that she was a lesbian right here in the liberal new york area.

homophobia isn't over and done with, even though there are some areas of nyc where it is ok to hold hands if you are a gay couple. i doubt that any of you have know queer kids who grew up without a concern in the world. they had accepting parents, preachers, teacher, and peers. they never encountered hatred because of their sexual orientation, they didn't hear about the hate crimes being perpetrated against people who were 'like them'.
posted by goneill at 6:36 PM on July 28, 2003


Maybe if motherfuckers wouldn't raise assholes for kids, this wouldn't even be an issue.
posted by angry modem at 6:41 PM on July 28, 2003


I went there today for an interview appointment, and the principal didn't even show up.
posted by eraserhed at 7:03 PM on July 28, 2003


It's a pity that there's only space for 170 kids, in a nyc school-age population of 1 million plus...
posted by amberglow at 7:48 PM on July 28, 2003


i doubt that any of you have know queer kids who grew up without a concern in the world. they had accepting parents, preachers, teacher, and peers. they never encountered hatred because of their sexual orientation, they didn't hear about the hate crimes being perpetrated against people who were 'like them'
I doubt that any of you have know any kids who grew up without a concern in the world. They had accepting parents, preachers, teacher, and peers. they never encountered hatred because of their particular personality traits, they didn't hear about the hate crimes being perpetrated against people who were 'like them'.
posted by dg at 7:48 PM on July 28, 2003



Actually, schools for math/sci geeks wld probably match the first category pretty well, and "alternative" schools could be considered hippie schools, so you may not have much work to do after all. As for fat schools, there are already summer camps, anyway...


You're (intentionally) missing the point. If hazing warrants schools for children with unpopular inclinations, all kids with unpopular inclinations should have a PUBLICLY FUNDED school just for them. Just so they don't have to suffer the occasional unpleasantness of high school.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:57 PM on July 28, 2003


I graduated from high school last year and I attended a school where bullying and harassment was not at all common. All the kids regardless of their differences were respectful and accepting of each other, and there were lots of "out" students. Mind you I'm talking about a high school for academic achievers but I also attended a regular high school for a year and the kids there were cool too. Maybe living in Toronto is the difference, I don't know, but all this hate found in some schools is totally fucked up and I think, while it may not be a perfect solution, that a school like Harvey Milk is a good thing. If it keeps some kids from dropping out or killing themselves, while society tries to sort it's shit out I don't see the argument.

As an aside, I still don't get what people are so afraid of when it comes to other people's sexuality. It makes no sense to me whatsoever, what does it matter?! gah.

A friend of mine is friends with Bryan Singer, and you are 100% right on the money. The parallels are very much intentional.

Well, as smart and talented a man as Bryan is he's not responsible for the parallels and allegories found within the x-men mythology; he certainly didn't tweak anything along those lines in his scripts beyond what already existed in the comic books. The x-men story was originally built specifically so that whatever variety of outcast you are, you're going to find yourself in the characters/story arcs. If he's going around taking credit for this then he's due for another shin kick from t r a c y.
posted by zarah at 8:28 PM on July 28, 2003


Hmmm. I don't like the idea of this school. This leads to that and eventually everyone of any type of anything wants their own school or club or hang out, the list goes on. So we're all going to volunteer to segregate ourselves and make the hate stronger. Sure, this is not an immediate issue, but it is a possibility.

More immediate would be when these students get off the bus. There could be some "shithead scumbags that have nothing better to do than hurt someone different them them" waiting for them. At least in a group environment there are faculty and such that could intervene. And I'm sure that the team sports would not be as friendly as anyone would hope. Imagine this... LGBT team vs Straight team in a tackle football game(not to single out football, this could be any physical sport). The prejudices that exist from either side would be magnified and people will get hurt, and instead of being brought out as a hate crime it would be written off as a sports injury.

Yes it's sad that there are people that are ignorant of difference, but they will always exist. To segregate(by choice or not) will only emphasize difference and the anger brought by it.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 8:48 PM on July 28, 2003


But, I've always respected you, McBain, and you've generally been freindly to me, so if I offended I apologize.

I appreciate that. And I figured it was a joke. But then generalizations are a dangerous game. A seemingly positive joking barb like "oh, those Jews were always good with money" would seem deeply anti-semetic. For many, the issue of homosexuals' place in society is very serious. I love racial humor (one of my favorite films is "Blazing Saddles") but one must be careful not to have it both ways. That is all I was trying to point out. :)
posted by McBain at 10:02 PM on July 28, 2003


LGBT team vs Straight team in a tackle football game

In my experience, having just had my 20 year high school reunion held this past weekend, the LGBT team would probably win, based on the number of male football and female basketball players from my graduating class (and the preceding and following classes, it was a small school, the classes weren't rigidly separated by graduating year) who are now out. Kid you not, I spent a lot of time asking others "where the fuck were you when I was out there...literally...all alone?"

The responses I received, each and every one, made being out there all alone 20 years ago completely worth it.

A friend of mine is friends with Bryan Singer, and you are 100% right on the money. The parallels are very much intentional.

Gossipy aside, my gaydar's always gone off about Singer because each of the Singer movies I've seen have had some form of homosexual subtext.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:28 PM on July 28, 2003


WolfDaddy, I didn't mean it as the LGBT team would be getting hurt, I meant as in on either side. I know sexual preference has nothing to do with physical ability in sports.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 11:15 PM on July 28, 2003


As long as they don't discriminate against any straight kids that want to go there.
posted by HTuttle at 11:39 PM on July 28, 2003


« Older "It's time for people to show their cards."...  |  "Global warming is now a weapo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments