The LGBT Youth North West group, a taxpayer-funded gay rights organization in Britain, has big plans for the future of education in the U.K., and one of those plans is to open the county’s first gay school in Manchester.
The group intends to cater for children aged 13 and older who have been bullied for their sexuality at other schools and hopes their model will be replicated across the country.
The group’s strategic director, Amelia Lee, said the idea was based on the Harvey Milk School in New York, named after the American gay politician, later played by Sean Penn in the Hollywood movie, Milk.
Critics of the idea say the move would amount to segregation and would harm efforts to improve tolerance of gay people by putting them in ghetto-type educational environments.
One such critic, Tory MP and former education minister Tim Loughton, said as follows.
“We need to do a lot more to combat homophobic bullying and to create a more tolerant society. 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.”
But, according to Lee, surveys carried out by her organization revealed that gay, lesbian, and transgender young people felt teachers had been unsupportive of them and in some cases simply urged them to “ignore” the homophobic bullying.
Lee told reporters as follows.
“Teachers in mainstream schools have problems in tackling issues like homophobic bullying and coming out. 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.”
By way of further opposition, a source close to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan told the Mail the following.
“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.”
What is your opinion about the initiative to open Britain’s first gay school? Would you like to see the same type of schools across America or do you feel, like some that it is segregation? Share your thoughts with our readers in the comments feed below.