The UK’s first LGBTQ school could be coming to Manchester, according to youth charity Children and Young People Now.
According to the charity’s website, the school is aimed at LGBTQ students who “don’t feel they fit in the mainstream”.
Homo/transphobic bullying – the stats
It’s an interesting proposal to an enduring problem: 41% of young LGBTQ people consider suicide as a result of bullying; 99% hear homophobic slurs in the playground; and 60% of LGBTQ youth say bullying affects their schoolwork. It’s more than enough to realise the way we teach acceptance and tolerance is fundamentally flawed.
It’s an unacceptable situation that requires a new approach. But does taking young LGBTQ people out of the mainstream provide a solution that’s both effective and enduring?
Part-time and full-time places available
As well as hosting up to 40 young people, the school will support young people part-time if they wish to stay in mainstream education. I don’t think anyone could argue that part-time respite from bullying and violence is essential. But say schools like this spring up all over the country, taking young LGBTQ people with them. Where does that leave our efforts to deal with homophobia?
Here are just a couple of reactions from Twitter:
There are clearly conflicting issues here. For many LGBTQ kids, youth is about survival. As adults, can we prioritise our desire to tackle homo/transphobia at a structural level over the immediate needs of the next generation?
At the same time “ghettoisation” – annexing young people for their own protection – could breed more isolation and ignorance. It could also give our political leaders a free pass to ignore an ugly truth about young people in the UK: at best many of them parrot the homo/transphobic views of their families, and at worst many of them are just plain homo/transphobic.
There’s another glaring issue here. A young person would surely need parental consent to change schools. How can we be sure this project wouldn’t leave young people who aren’t yet living openly behind?
There’s no simple answer. But something urgent and radical needs to be done to combat the hate young LGBTQ people face.
Are you in favour of separate schools for young LGBTQ people? Share your thoughts below.