In the “what were they thinking?” column comes news from NYC that they are opening a public high school exclusively for gay, lesbian, and transgender children so that they’ll be able to get an education free from harassment.
While I’m sure the intention behind this was noble, in execution it is misguided, and not at all because this is about homosexuals. The fundamental problems are two-fold. First, what makes gays a unique demographic when it comes to harassment? Why not a separate school for fat kids, nerds, dumb kids, etc.? They all get picked on. Ironically, New York State’s education policy is very pro-inclusion at this point. Classrooms should be blended with kids of all abilities, races, genders, etc. The decision to open this gay-only school would seem to fly directly in the face of that policy. Inclusion for all… except gays?
The second issue is harder to defend, but I think equally pertinent. If you are different, you will be picked on. This is reality in school and in life in general. It doesn’t matter if that difference is sexual orientation, race, religion, or body type. Granted, school can be merciless when it comes to being picked on, but if you are different, thickening up your skin and learning to deal with the real world is an essential social adaptation for life. Yes, school is an intellectual pursuit, but it is also a social pursuit. Learning to deal and work with others is as much a part of your education as math class.
And one final thought. Given the anti-discrimination laws which prevent employers from making decisions based on a person’s sexual orientation, it is not necessary to reveal your orientation to your employer. Yet we will be putting “I am gay” on each of these kids’ resumes by virtue of the high school they attended.
And one really really absolutely final thought (for the moment)… what will be the entrance criteria for getting into this school? Sexual orientation is hardly a black and white delineation. There are shades of grey too numerous to comprehend. Who will decide where to draw the line, and by what measure will you fall on one side or the other?