A new private school will open in Georgia to cater to LGBT members of the youth and academe.
The Pride School in Atlanta is a K-12 educational institution that aims to provide a safer and discrimination-free learning environment to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students. In addition, the school also encourages teachers from the LGBT community to join and work for the institution.
Christian Zsilavetz, the Pride School’s founder, said that the LGBT high school is especially designed for LGBT students, although it is open to anyone who is not getting enough support for their education just because they are “different.”
— Pride School Atlanta (@PrideSchoolATL) January 5, 2016
“Kids have full permission to be themselves — as well as educators. Where there’s no wondering, ‘Is this teacher going to be a person for me to be myself with?'” Zsilavetz said.
“This is a place where they can just open up and be the best person they can be,” he added.
The school’s 45-year-old founder is also transgender and has been teaching for over 25 years. Throughout his teaching career, Zsilavetz has experienced discrimination and decided that people like him should find a safe school to learn and grow.
Currently, Pride School is a “floating” institution out of the Unitarian Universalist of Atlanta church. It aims to become fully operational in September, 2016.
The school’s main goal is to provide “LGBTQQIAA students, families, and educators a safe, fun, and rigorous learning environment free of homophobia and transphobia.”
— WABE News (@wabenews) March 11, 2015
Moreover, the Pride School believes that it will be a place that respects gay identities, and allows them to be themselves. During their stay in the school, they will find friends and teachers who can guide them in overcoming life’s challenges.
The school will reportedly have a flexible curriculum, where students are also encouraged to learn in their own way.
The Pride School Atlanta believes that while students respond well to a structured curriculum and mode of instruction, giving them a “little freedom” can also help them discover their skills and capabilities.
The LGBT high school was modeled after the Harvey Milk School in New York, although the latter only caters to high school students.
The report said that yearly tuition for the LGBT high school is $13,000, although students can also get financial assistance from other insitutions.
Zsilavetz reportedly began working on founding the LGBT high school in May, 2014, using Craigslist to ask anyone in Atlanta who wanted to join his cause. A lesbian couple responded, and soon after a Board of Directors was formed.
Teacher hopes Southeast’s first LGBT school will be a haven http://t.co/Xwm3ayFbul for students as early as pre-kindergarten
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) March 23, 2015
Currently, the Pride School is seeking donations from sponsors so that they can hit their target opening date in September. Because it is a private school, it would not depend on school districts for policies and funding.
Other schools that are designed and dedicated to LGBT teachers and students include The Alliance School in Milwaukee, and the now-closed Walt Whitman Community School in Dallas.
Data from gay rights group, Georgia Equality, show that nine out of 10 LGBT students have reported harassment in their schools in the last academic year. Meanwhile, three out of 10 of these students miss classes because they feared for their safety.
Watch LGBT High School Students Recount Their Negative Experiences in School
The group has also fought for a state law that aims to reduce bullying in schools. However, despite the fact that the bill was signed into law in 2010, the group found out that only less than 30 percent of schools in Georgia had LGBT bullying-prevention policies.
As a result of these bullying issues, more teens are having fear of coming out, which hurts their self-esteem.
But with an LGBT high school like the Pride School Atlanta, they can “come out” early in life and enjoy learning in school.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]