Vote delayed on Chicago's GLBT oriented high school

Mon. October 20, 2008 12:00 AM by Kevin Wayne

Chicago school officials delay vote on School for Social Justice Pride Campus

Chicago, IL - Chicago Public Schools officials will get another month to consider a vote for the city's first high school for gay students.

The planned School for Social Justice Pride Campus had been scheduled for a final vote Wednesday, but Schools CEO Arne Duncan said the proposal would be delayed until the school board's Nov. 19 meeting.

Duncan gave preliminary approval earlier this month.

The proposal which has gained national attention is opposed by a number of local ministers. Officials meet with the ministers over the weekend but say the delay in voting was not related to that meeting.

The high school designed to provide a safe, "gay-friendly" atmosphere, will be open to all students in Chicago. Officials hope the school would combat harassment and violence toward gay students.

According to the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, out of 6,000 gay and lesbian middle school and high school students, almost 90 percent reported being harassed at school, and about 61 percent felt unsafe.

"If you look at national studies, you see gay and lesbian students with high dropout rates," Duncan said during a public hearing last Wednesday. "I think there is a niche there we need to fill."

The school's curriculum would not differ from other schools in Chicago. However, officials say it would offer counseling for students and the curriculum would incorporate lessons about sexual identity in history and literature classes.

Chicago's gay-friendly school would not be the first of its kind, the Harvey Milk High School in New York City became a gay-friendly campus in 2003.