Okay, this week's topic comes from this article in the Chicago Tribune. Basically, the idea is that people in Chicago are exploring setting up a "Social Justice High School" which would have a majority of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning students. By being in the majority, their argument goes, the school would be a much "safer" environment for the GLBTQ Teens.
To better understand where they're coming from, take a look at these statistics, from the website of the Gay High School in New York City:
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth often feel invisible in their schools. Their invisibility is typically reinforced by heterosexism in their environment, which causes these young people to feel invisible, unsupported and isolated. The following statistics vividly illustrate some of the reasons why The Hetrick-Martin Institute and The Harvey Milk School exist:
Sexual Self-Concept, Orientation and Identity:
- During adolescence, young people form their sexual identity.+
- Developing a sexual self-concept is a key developmental task of adolescence. +
LGBTQ Youth in School
- 41.7% of LGBTQ youth do not feel safe in their school. +
- 28% of gay teens drop out of school annually, three times the national average. +
- 69% of LGBTQ youth reported experiencing some form of harassment or violence. +
- 46% of LGBTQ youth reported verbal harassment, 36.4% reported sexual harassment, 12.1% reported physical harassment, 6.1% reported physical assault. +
- 86.7% of LGBTQ youth reported sometimes or frequently hearing homophobic remarks. +
- 36.6% of LGBTQ youth reported hearing homophobic remarks from faculty or school staff +
- LGBTQ youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than other youth.*
- 40% of LGBTQ youth attempted suicide compared to their heterosexual peers. +
Student Attitudes about LGBTQ issues
- 40% of high school students say that they are prejudiced against homosexuals. +
Teaching about Sexual Orientation in Schools
- In one study of LGBTQ adolescents, half of the students said that homosexuality had been discussed in their classes. 50% of the females and 37% of the males said it was handled negatively. +
‡Statements indicated with (*) derive from the National Mental Health Association website: http://www.nmha.org, and with (+) from the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States: http://www.siecus.org.
Pretty bleak, huh?
Non-surprisingly, conservative groups are against having All-Gay High Schools because they don't want to "condone" homosexuality. (nice, aren't they?)
But, here's what I thought was really fascinating: The opposition of Gay activists!
"If we're going to set up a separate school, let's put the bullies in the school and not our gay kids," said Rick Garcia, public policy director of Equality Illinois, the state's largest gay rights group. "Kids should be able to go to school in a safe environment wherever they are."
All the Bullies in their own school??? WOW - That's a new idea!
What do YOU think?
Would it be best to go to an All-Gay (or at least 50%) Gay High School?
Would it be best to go to your OWN High School, but have all the bullies bussed to a different school?
Would it be best to change the culture at ALL the High Schools, so they're all safe?
And okay, if it's this last one, how do we actually make that happen? Is it possible?
Can you and your GSA brainstorm 5 concrete steps you can take to make your OWN school safer?
Add your ideas to the "comments" section, and in a few weeks I'll pull together a post with all the ideas, from here and from other sources!
Have a great week!