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    A taxpayer-funded youth group has drawn up controversial plans for Britain’s first school for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pupils.
    LGBT Youth North West wants the school to cater for children aged 13 and older who have been bullied and hopes the idea will be copied across the country.
    Organisers yesterday denied that the school would become a ‘ghetto’ for gay children and said mainstream schools can be ‘one of the last bastions of homophobia’.
    But critics said the move would amount to segregation and would harm efforts to improve tolerance of gay people.
    Amelia Lee, the group’s strategic director, said the idea was based on the Harvey Milk School in New York, named after the American politician later played by Sean Penn in a Hollywood movie.
    She visited the Harvey Milk school last year, and said she had secured a meeting with officials at the Department for Education.
    But Tory MP and former education minister Tim Loughton said: ‘We need to do a lot more to combat homophobic bullying and to create a more tolerant society.
    Elizabeth Lowe, 14, killed herself in misplaced fear that her Christian parents would reject her
    ‘But I cannot see how segregating a group of young people identified by their sexuality can aid better engagement and understanding.
    ‘The way to achieve more integration, understanding and empathy is not by segregating members of one group, and this would seem to me to be a step backwards from achieving tolerance.’
    UKIP deputy leader and education spokesman, Paul Nuttall said: ‘This idea does nothing but foster division.
    “At a time that successive governments have closed all but a few special schools, why this sudden exception, if not for reasons of political correctness?
    “Integration is the key to understanding, and it is utterly bizarre to be taking a step that highlights differences and adds nothing of value to a child’s education.’
    Miss Lee said her organisation has carried out a survey of gay, lesbian and transgender young people which found many felt teachers had been unsupportive and in some cases simply urged them to ‘ignore’ bullying.
    ‘Teachers in mainstream schools have problems in tackling issues like homophobic bullying and coming out,’ she said. ‘Unfortunately, schools can be one of the last bastions of homophobia.
    ‘We have also seen tragic cases such as that of Elizabeth Lowe, a 14-year-old who committed suicide in a park in Manchester because she was struggling with coming out and was worried about telling her parents.
    ‘It’s to combat problems like those that we want to work with schools and pupil referral units to help young people who are struggling in mainstream education.’
    The group received a grant for £63,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government to enable it to purchase the building where it is based, the Joyce Layland LGBT Centre in central Manchester.
    And it used part of the funding to conduct a feasibility study into setting up a school. Miss Lee paid for the visit to the U.S. out of her own pocket.
    Miss Lee said that by coincidence Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was also visiting the Harvey Milk School last year at the same time she was there.
    She also praised the ‘climate of change’ within the department towards homophobic bullying in schools.
    A source close to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan told the Mail: ‘There is simply no way that we will approve a free school specifically for LGBT young people.
    ‘Pupils regardless of their sexuality should be educated in mainstream schools which should be equipped to tackle any bullying that should occur.’
    Miss Lee said the proposed school would also be open to pupils who were not gay or transgender but felt more comfortable in such an environment and those who are questioning their sexuality.
    LGBT Youth North West is a regional organisation that seeks to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people in the North West of England.
    It receives funding from a raft of state funded bodies, including the region’s councils and parts of the NHS. It also says its work is ‘supported by’ the National Lottery, Comic Relief and Children in Need.
    Miss Lee said she intends to wait until after the General Election to decide whether to go ahead with an application to set up a free school, with the first pupils starting in around three years’ time.
    She said around two-thirds of the anticipated 60 pupils would be full-time, with the rest attending for around a day a week from their usual schools.
    ‘The last thing we want is for young people to fall out of mainstream education permanently, or for this to become a ghetto for lesbian, gay and bisexual students,’ she said.
    ‘This would be somewhere that students who are struggling with the negative effects of issues like bullying could attend classes for a period of time while ensuring they get the grades they are capable of.’
    She said children would not be enrolled in the school as their first-choice secondary, but referred there if they were having problems in mainstream education, potentially staying for a year or more.
    A spokesman from the Department for Communities and Local Government said the grant was to help the group purchase the community centre from Manchester City Council and was not to set up a school.
    A spokesman said: ‘The Department for Communities and Local Government has not funded this school.’
    ‘Rather, through the organisation Social Investment Business, grants have been given to local areas wishing to run buildings for community uses.’
    A spokesman for Manchester City Council said: ‘We supported LGBT Youth NW in their bid for funding to look at the feasibility of expanding their premises and developing the work they do.
    ‘One of their development ambitions is around how they might make additional educational support available to LGBT young people. We’ve had an initial discussion with them about that, but there are no current plans that we’re aware of to open a LGBT school in the city.’

    Considering how many drop out or commit suicide due to harassment, bullying, sexual and physical abuse, being kicked out by parents… This is not only a good idea but desperately needed in many places.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


    In my privileged position there is no way I could ever really understand the depth and breadth of the problem in anything but a theoretical sense, so I’m treading lightly here, but only a little, because I don’t want my need for political correctness to get in the way of an honest discussion.

    I would never expect to find myself leaning toward accepting the Tory view on anything, much less a question touching on LGBT issues, but that was my first reaction after reading the article and the comments by the socially conservative MPs quoted therein. It’s hard for me to see an answer to bullying and prejudice in the act of removing the victims from the wider arena. I think it perhaps doesn’t prepare the youth for the ill treatment they are all too likely to face upon graduation, but what I’m seeing is that it also doesn’t help foster acceptance among everyone else. And maybe that’s where I’m coming from here; maybe having a safe haven is good for LGBT youth in the short term — not the long, I don’t think, because there’s still a big nasty world out there — but we’re missing an opportunity to effect positive change on the rest of the population.

    I could be naive, but I still believe that acceptance comes from personalizing and finding commonality with those who may be “other” from oneself. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, when the use of the word “f-ggot” was a locker-room taunt. It wasn’t until friends and acquaintances began to come out that I was able to see the damage that ignorance can do when it comes to these issues of cultural identity. Just that word. Just that one word, and I had no idea how much pain I was causing my friends.

    I note that a third of the anticipated 60-student roll would be there only one day per week, with the remainder of the week spent at integrated schools, and that seems a more rational tack to take. In a formulation like that, it more closely resembles a special needs or gifted/talented program than segregation. That I can get behind. That one good day — ah, Thursday, or whatever — where one doesn’t have to be afraid? Okay, yes, absolutely.

    Deep breath, and “submit”.


    We already have alternative schools for people who struggle in traditional school. I’m sure there were many people who said kids just needed to deal with whatever was going on, and that going to another school was taking the easy way out. But it’s always easy to say that when you aren’t the person in the middle of it all. So when we say, the only way tolerance increases is by being visible, we take away the person’s choice to be that trailblazer. Not everyone is meant to be that person. And not every situation is resolved in that manner either. There are too many situations that end up with the gay kid raped, abused, murdered, or dead through suicide. Another result is they become an addict, drop out of school and their future is screwed up, and why? Because other people decided it was more important that they be integrated than to have a safe space to learn – both the school subjects and about themselves. I don’t even care if the conservative motivation is to keep the gay kids away from their kids because in the end it’s going to benefit the kids who desperately need a break so they have a chance to learn and succeed. I don’t believe in sacrificing any kid for ideology. A school like this doesn’t remove all gay kids, but it provides an alternative for those who need it.

    I’m sorry, but it is not benevolent to force a kid to stay in an abusive situation. I understand the desire for change, and for the kid to have skills to handle the situation. I really do. But that isn’t going to work in all situations. Personally, I’m sick of seeing so many kids derailed by other people’s hatred. Gay kids are still disproportionately victims of abuse and harassment, get kicked out of their homes, abuse drugs and alcohol, etc. Even in foster care they have more problems finding a home that will accept them rather than trying to change them.

    Acceptance of various sexualities has increased a lot in just the almost 20 years since I came out. Much of that happened because people were exposed to gay people on tv. Most people still didn’t know someone personally, but there was an increase in people come out as well. However, forcing a person to come out was never a good idea. To force a kid to endure in this age of the internet where bullying can be constant is even harder. I would hope there isn’t a need for alternative schools in another 20 years, but until we are there, I wouldn’t force a kid to suffer.

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