Faced with harassment and violence against openly gay students, which leads to increased dropout rates, Chicago’s public school officials are considering the creation of a “gay-friendly” high school. The school isn’t the first of its kind. New York’s Harvey Milk High School similarly focuses on gay students, although it limits admissions to those at risk for dropping out.
Currently named Pride School, the building would be attached to the School for Social Justice. It would also not be an all-gay school, in part because federal law prohibits school administrators from asking students about their sexual orientation.
The School for Social Justice Pride Campus, which officials say will not be exclusive to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, is aimed at being safe and welcoming for any student looking for another school option, said Josh Edelman, executive officer in the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of New Schools.
Of course, the open-enrollment policy begs the question: if school officials can’t prevent anti-gay violence in other public schools, how can they prevent it in this one? Granted, social norms might be different in a primarily gay school, but isn’t there just as big a risk that straight students enrolled there would become the new targets?