It's hard to miss the media firestorm over Chicago's latest educational innovation, the School for Social Justice Pride Campus. The school would cater to gay students who are teased and bullied at their current schools. If the school board approves the plan--it has delayed a vote until November 19--both straight and gay students will be eligible to attend Social Justice High when it opens in 2010. The would-be-principal, Chad Weiden, claims that the goal is "to really push back to make sure all schools are safe, supporting and affirming for all LGBT students and all students in the city of Chicago." Au contraire--promoting a culture of tolerance and respect in all schools would do that. Creating a school so that gays can feel safe just sends the message that it's okay to make them feel unsafe at other schools. As Rick Garcia, political director for Equality Illinois, explains, "There's no doubt there's violence and bullying of gay kids and something has to be done, but segregating them is not the answer. It doesn't stop bullying at other schools." Fact. Perhaps Garcia is right when he suggests, "maybe we need a school for the bullies."
"Chicago proposes Pride high school for gay students," by Susan Dosemagen, Medill Reports, October 9, 2008
"Daley voices concerns about gay high school," by Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, October 24, 2008