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schmiggens
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Gay School post #1  quote:



Gay kids get own school - Harvey Milk High opens in New York
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
New York -- The nation's first public high school for gay, bisexual and transgender students opened Monday in Greenwich Village, stirring controversy within the gay community and among critics who say it violates civil rights laws.



Students were escorted inside Harvey Milk High School -- named after the slain San Francisco supervisor who was California's first openly gay politician -- past police barricades and a throng of news cameras as hundreds of supporters waved rainbow flags and a dozen protesters shouted religious epithets.



"Students are happy to be here today," Principal Bill Salzman said as he rang the school bell at 8 a.m. Harvey Milk High will be academically challenging, offering courses in computer technology, the arts and culinary programs in a supportive learning environment, he said.

Praised by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the school expanded this year from a two-classroom program to a full-fledged high school with 72 students. But the decision to open a separate high school using $3.2 million in public funds has drawn fire from diverse quarters.

Opening day brought out the Rev. Fred Phelps of Kansas, who recycled his "God Hates ****" sign that he waved in 1998 at the Wyoming funeral of gay- bashing victim Matthew Shepard.

Relatives of the late Harvey Milk are taking sides, and even the gay community is divided, questioning whether Harvey Milk High protects or stigmatizes lesbian and gay students.

"Harvey Milk High represents a failure, not a milestone," said Arthur Lipkin, author of "Understanding Homosexuality, Changing Schools."

"While we have to do something short-term to help those kids who cannot survive in dangerous environments, any school that thinks it has solved a homophobia problem by sending the homosexuals away is kidding itself."

A New York state senator has filed suit in New York Supreme Court to block the school's expansion. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, says Harvey Milk High violates laws against segregation and diverts limited funds from children suffering in the city's most decrepit schools.

"The New York City schools are full of violence, against blacks, Hispanics, Jews and Arabs. To take 100 children and give them special protection, in a school with high technology and air conditioning . . . it's not fair," said Diaz.

Harvey Milk officials say students are getting hurt in regular school, dropping out and cutting their futures short.

"What people are forgetting in all this is how dangerous and scary it is for gay and lesbian teens to go to school and be around people who hate them every day," said David Mensah, executive director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, the gay youth advocacy group that started the school as a small program in 1985.

Harvey Milk students include homeless teenagers who have been kicked out of the house and young people with lunch sacks full of AIDS medications. Many of the students come with stories of classroom humiliation, locker-room beatings and suicide attempts.


'THE GAY KID' IN SCHOOL
The stresses of being "the gay kid" at his 1,000-student high school put Arthur Larsen in the hospital with exhaustion. He was even forced to change for P.E. in a principal's bathroom when boys threatened him in the locker room.

At Harvey Milk High, "I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders," said Larsen, who graduated as valedictorian of the program this year.

Seventy percent of gay youth have experienced some form of harassment or violence at school, according to a 2001 study by the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States. Gay kids are three times more likely to attempt suicide than the national average and three times more likely to drop out of school, according to the National Mental Health Association.

In San Francisco, Supervisor Tom Ammiano said that "in a perfect world, when you cross gender lines, no one would beat you up or kill you, but that still happens today," referring to the slaying of transgender teen Gwen Araujo at a party in October in Newark.

Despite the school's focus, school leaders say it's open to anyone, including straight teens. Aside from some protest when it opened in 1985, Harvey Milk High has been operating as a small program without controversy for nearly 20 years. Ninety-five percent of the students graduate, and one-third go on to college. The school's overall average on the New York State's Regents exams is 85 percent.

The small enrollment allows the school's seven teachers to tailor individual lesson plans for students based on their abilities. Students study English, math, social studies and science. Homosexual leaders are invited to speak at the school, and a discussion of Gertrude Stein's writings, for example, will include the fact that the writer was a lesbian.

In "family class," students engage in group discussion about homosexuality, society and relationships. Students also receive breakfast and lunch at the school.

Hetrick-Martin provides on-site counseling, and students can get help finding an apartment, job, health care and even clothes.

What would Harvey Milk, who was shot and killed with then-San Francisco Mayor George Moscone at City Hall in 1978, think about all this?


TICKLED PINK
Ammiano said his late friend would be tickled pink. Milk was a big supporter of public education and led the successful fight against then-Sen. John Briggs' initiative that would have banned gay teachers from public classrooms when Ammiano was an openly gay teacher.

But Milk was an integrationist who used the political system to make society more inclusive of gays, said Jim Sears, editor of the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Issues in Education.

"It's somewhat paradoxical to use his name for a separate school; on the other hand Harvey Milk High is filling a crucial need," Sears said.

Two of Milk's nephews -- one gay, one straight -- have opposing views.

While his gay brother Larry disagrees, Andrew Milk said the separate high school is not what his uncle spent 25 years fighting for.

"He was for equal rights. Putting all the gay kids in one spot is making them even more of a target. "Gays are not the only kids who get bullied, what about tall gawky kids? The nerds? Should they get a school, too?" he said.


Old Post 10-27-2003 04:07 AM
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schmiggens
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post #2  quote:

New York -- High school in the Bronx was hell for 16-year-old Dennis Perez.



For a boy who likes boys and diva-inspired vogue dancing, he was a perfect target for spitwads and slurs. With a feisty temper, Perez fought back with his fists so much that he finally dropped out rather than deal with daily danger.

But Monday, he began classes at a school that promises him an education and a refuge.

Two police officers each took one of his arms and escorted him into Harvey Milk High past a crowd of supporters and protesters that took up almost a city block.

Some of them blew bubbles and waved signs reading, "Gay School is Kool," while religious conservatives shouted passages from the Bible. One banged two male electrical cords together, shouting that they don't fit together and don't create electricity.

"I was scared, but I'm more scared to go to straight schools," Perez said. "It's the little remarks, the things people throw at you. I was taking stress medication to keep myself calm."

Suicide became more than a passing thought, he said.

He eventually dropped out and spent much of his time at the Harvey Milk High after-school drop-in center to talk with counselors and get help finding a job.

For the first time, he met other teens who also like to vogue on the circuit each week at clubs like La Escuelita, in competitive categories such as "soft ballet," "realness with a twist" and "sex siren." Contestants win based on style, catwalk strut skills and dance moves.

"I had never met a gay person before," he said.

When he heard Harvey Milk High was going to expand, he signed up right away.

Perez' first day was hectic, he said, and it was difficult to concentrate because he could hear the chanting filtering up through the windows of the third floor of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, where the school is located. Security guards with walkie-talkies roamed the halls, and teachers spent much of the day telling students how to avoid the media.

Even so, Perez felt much better at his new school.

"At Harvey Milk High, I can fold my legs when I sit, I can talk about my boyfriend, I can hold my hands any way I want. . . . I can just be gay," he said.

His mother's disapproval still brings tears, but he's hoping that with time he can persuade her to come to family class at school -- when students and counselors discuss family and friend relationships.

When Harvey Milk let out for the day, Perez braced for the crowds gathered outside. But standing among them was his boyfriend, Angel Lugo, a graduate of Harvey Milk.

"Seeing him there just made everything all right," Perez said. "I ran up and gave him a big hug for supporting me."

Minutes later, the couple were vogue-ing in the reflection of a shoe store window down the street.


Old Post 10-27-2003 04:08 AM
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schmiggens
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post #3  quote:

S.F. takes a different approach
Educators don't see need for separate school for gays
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When Harvey Milk High opened in New York Monday as the first public school for gay students, some San Franciscans wondered why this gay hub didn't have one first. The simple answer? Nobody's ever wanted one.

"It hasn't been proposed," said San Francisco school board member Dan Kelly matter-of-factly.

Instead, school board members said they have emphasized tolerance at each of the district's 114 schools and have established a number of programs that address gay and lesbian issues.

"We're doing it, but we're doing it in a different way," said Supervisor Tom Ammiano, an openly gay former school board member.

Every school has a teacher or counselor specifically designated to help students who are questioning their sexuality. The district's health department includes staff members responsible for ensuring gay students and those questioning their sexual identity feel supported.

Teachers are given sensitivity training and take workshops to learn how to deal with hate speech. Many schools have Gay/Straight Alliances, clubs in which gay and straight students work to build understanding and tolerance. For at least 12 years, the school board has had an openly gay member and some of the student delegates to the board have been gay.

School board members said Monday they would be open to discussing the possibility of creating a school like New York's Harvey Milk High, but they think the district's current methods are working just fine.

"I'm not prepared to say it's something we don't need here," said openly gay board member Mark Sanchez. "I'm very interested in learning more about what they're doing in New York, but I haven't gotten any kinds of calls or anything from students or teachers saying that's what they would want."

School board member Jill Wynns said she fears that segregating openly gay students into one school would make it harder for students who are less sure of their sexuality to find gay role-models or confidants.

San Francisco does have a public school named after Milk, but it is not based on sexual orientation. Douglass Elementary School in the Castro was renamed the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy in the summer of 1996. The district's Web site boasts that the school is "dedicated to empowering our students through teaching tolerance and nonviolence."

"Having that school is a huge statement for our kids, and I'm glad New York is using that name," Sanchez said. "It shows how powerful the legacy is."


Old Post 10-27-2003 04:10 AM
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schmiggens
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post #4  quote:

Hmm, I dunno about this. I agree when people say that it will help these kids to concentrate on learning and not have to worry about being bullyed at school, but they will still be bullied on the way to and from school and by just about any other teenager out there.

If this helps in teenagers and people in general of any age becoming more accepting of gay people then I am all for it, but it seems to be that we are segregating ourselves from the straight people and that is not a step forward it is a step backwards.

I just hope that this helps to raise awareness in this community that there are a lot of gay children/ teenagers around being discriminated against and that it has to stop if we are all to live together in society.


Old Post 10-27-2003 04:13 AM
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sothinbelle
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Angry I'm Disgusted post #5  quote:

Not so much with this high school for gays, but that it used public money to establish it.

If gays want a high school, then let their parents and supporters finance it and let charitable contributions help it continue year after year.

What's next?...
a high school for fat kids
a high school for short kids
let's see...who else gets made fun of in school...
a high school for non athletic kids
a high school kids that talk with a lisp

Homosexuality is not some kind of "disability" like deafness or blindness, or mental retardation. I'd have no problem using public funds to establish schools for those groups that need a certain type of environment to learn

Is gay algebra different than straight algebra
Is gay science different than straight science
Is gay grammar different hat straight grammer
The only class that might change is sex ed...at that doesn't cost 3.2 million to redesign


Old Post 10-27-2003 11:59 PM
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catalyst

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post #6  quote:

quote:
Originally posted by sothinbelle
The only class that might change is sex ed...at that doesn't cost 3.2 million to redesign


Actually.. I'd imagine there'd be an intereseting arrangement for the restrooms too. If you think about it, non-coed restrooms in normal public places are designed such that all the straight boys are with the straight boys and all the straight girls are with the straight girls and naturally there'd be no funny business amongst them. So - how exactly would you eliminate the funny-business part from a bunch of queers? You can't make a bathroom which requires every other admittance to be boy/girl/boy/girl.. perhaps you could put a chaperone in each restroom.. that'd go over well!

I'm in agreement with the rest of your post. It's a pathetic situation IMO. I think the situation is indeed compounded by intolerance amongst other kids which is equally pathetic, but this is no solution.

Funny thing is that anyone who's hung around with gay couples long enough knows what a f'ing DRAMATIC bunch they are; Packing a bunch of gay kids together all in one place strikes me as drama-central. Trying to erradicate one problem will simply exaggerate other issues in a situation dealing with general human interaction like this. I predict issues with sexual harassment, and inattention towards studies yielding poor GPA's because of certain "distractions".

Perhaps funnier yet is that supposedly "the law" says that no minor is to engage in sexual activity and yet "gayness" is nothing other than a sexual identity and active pursuit. So now the PUBLIC school system is not just condoning, but effectively facilitating sexual activity amongst minors. That's great!

And to those of you who would, go on and deny it all you want, "being gay isn't about sex!" Whatever. Scream that up and down the street in your little parades all you want, but your idealism will always yield to reality: being queer is an alternative sexual preference, PERIOD. The definition is incomplete without sex.


Old Post 10-28-2003 12:36 AM
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bitwiz44
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Smile post #7  quote:

This was brought up before......http://www.inreview.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=7327



I am also curious about Restrooms and locker rooms, showers etc.


Old Post 10-28-2003 11:53 AM
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sothinbelle
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Lightbulb How about that? post #8  quote:

quote:
Originally posted by catalyst


Funny thing is that anyone who's hung around with gay couples long enough knows what a f'ing DRAMATIC bunch they are; Packing a bunch of gay kids together all in one place strikes me as drama-central. Trying to erradicate one problem will simply exaggerate other issues in a situation dealing with general human interaction like this. I predict issues with sexual harassment, and inattention towards studies yielding poor GPA's because of certain "distractions".

Perhaps funnier yet is that supposedly "the law" says that no minor is to engage in sexual activity and yet "gayness" is nothing other than a sexual identity and active pursuit. So now the PUBLIC school system is not just condoning, but effectively facilitating sexual activity amongst minors. That's great!

And to those of you who would, go on and deny it all you want, "being gay isn't about sex!" Whatever. Scream that up and down the street in your little parades all you want, but your idealism will always yield to reality: being queer is an alternative sexual preference, PERIOD. The definition is incomplete without sex.


I agree!


Old Post 10-28-2003 08:21 PM
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jrkiv
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post #9  quote:

I don't see how segregation is the answer to anything. I thought seperate but equal was unconstitutional, what is different here? The gay movement in america has gone beyond a simple quest for equality, and now longs for special treatment. Why not, every other social movement has not stopped at equality, why should this one?
Fat people are picked on too, i don't see millions of dollars dedicated to building fat schools. Sothinbelle had it right, if people want to send their kids to a gay private school, more power to them, i don't see why tax dollars are being spent on this.


Old Post 10-28-2003 08:41 PM
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