School Choice

School Choice Can Help LGBT Students Deal with Hostile Environments

A private school in Atlanta provides a safer alternative.

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School choice is not the enemy for gay and transgender students. People with an entrenched interest in maintaining the public school status quo are selling it as a threat, suggesting the idea of charter schools and vouchers is all just a trick to siphon education funding away to religious schools and evil, evil "for-profit" corporations. (Whether or not parents are happier with the educations their kids are getting there is irrelevant.)

It's not entirely clear what the landscape on LGBT issues and public schooling is going to look like under President-Elect Donald Trump. It's an exaggeration of describe Trump as "anti-gay," but it's definitely accurate to at least describe his secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos as having a history connecting her to anti-gay activism. Members of the religious DeVos family don't just have a particular set of conservative views. Through their foundation, they've spent money on state-level efforts to block same-sex marriage recognition.

This doesn't necessarily mean that making life miserable for LGBT students is on DeVos' agenda. It does mean that her religious motives are being used to impugn school choice, and that's a shame. If school choice is for anybody, it's for students who don't fit into a "one-size fits all" education system, and that includes LGBT teens, particularly now that transgender people are coming out at a younger age.

For proof, head down to Atlanta. Reuters has a story about Pride School Atlanta, a private non-profit school focused on serving these students. It's the first of its kind down there and is not sitting around waiting for the federal government to create rules on how to treat its students. And more power to them:

At Pride School, where transgender students are the majority of its inaugural class, Josh Farabee, 14, feels comfortable showing off his spunky pink and lime hair and long mauve nails.

Under the gender-neutral restroom policy students voted for, he tried the men's restrooms but discovered he still prefers the women's.

The transgender student's days at the school are a far cry from his former public school, where classmates called him "tranny" and "fag."

"I don't wake up scared to go to school," he said.

One thing to note about Pride School Atlanta is that it's a private school, not a charter school, so it has a tuition. Imagine how great it would be for parents of LGBT kids if it were a charter school, and they were able to send their children to a positive school that was funded from the tax dollars they have to contribute into the education systems.

That's why it's so important not to allow the idea that school choice is just for the right people (white religious folks) to control the debate. Charter schools are a boon for poor minorities in urban environments and parents love them.

Parents should not have to rely on the hospitality of the president or whoever is in charge on the federal level to determine whether their children are treated right. School choice will give parents the power to put kids in schools that treat their students well and punish those that do not.

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  1. Uh, have you ever had a conversation with these people? It appears not, as the immediate and predictable response is: “gay kids shouldn’t have to change schools just because you don’t want to be around them. If you don’t want to be around gay kids, YOU should be the one to change schools, and with no tax breaks or vouchers; you have to pay for your hate out of your own pocket.” If you think they’re going to suddenly be pro school choice, you’re crazy.

    1. technically they have point you should pay for it out of pocket, but that only serves as evidence that schools sold be privatized.

    2. Do folks have a choice in making YOU move because they don’t want to be around you?

      Or are you a special snowflake?

      However, I am pro school choice.

  2. “Imagine how great it would be for parents of LGBT kids if it were a charter school, and they were able to send their children to a positive school that was funded from the tax dollars they have to contribute into the education systems.”

    I’m sorry, Scott, but the idea of self-segregation in the name of saftey has already begun to show signs of causing emotional and intellectual shallowness among our students at the collegiate level. Beginning the process at an even earlier age would be, IMHO, doing them a long-term disservice.

    The world is an ugly, unfair place and refusing to navigate it only weakens you.

    1. I think if a public school tolerates bullying bad enough to drive kids to suicide, and they do, safe spaces are better than the alternative. Though making examples out of the officials of failed public schools would be better still.

      1. Can you really tie suicides to bullying?

        1. I doubt the bullying helped.

          1. Maybe it was lack of school provided breakfast.

      2. Is it really that common? I genuinely don’t know seeing how public school was half a lifetime ago. Maybe it’s because of my selective reading but it seems to me most public schools are very forceful about protecting the LGBT community.

        Regardless, I’m not trying to come off as uncaring about habitual bullying and apologize if it reads that way. It’s just my default lizard-brain reaction to fight or flight encounters is fight. Metaphorically and when necessary, physically. Maybe I take that for granted.

  3. ” Members of the religious DeVos family don’t just have a particular set of conservative views. Through their foundation, they’ve spent money on state-level efforts to block same-sex marriage recognition.”

    You mean they ought to be *responsible* conservatives, the kind who wantthe government to redefine marriage?

    “This doesn’t necessarily mean that making life miserable for LGBT students is on DeVos’ agenda. ”

    Yeah, and she were a Baptist you’d say that she doesn’t *necessarily* want to create a Communist state like in Munster.

  4. Do you remember the “it gets better” YouTube videos from a few years back, when Obama and other celebrities were counseling gay teens to tolerate bullying in school now because in a few years, when they become old enough to escape the public school system, things will “get better?” No thought was given to a policy that would allow gay teens — and others — to choose schools that had better ways of actually combating bullying. Far better that teens tolerate the intolerable rather than alllow them embrace the anathema of school choice.

    1. School choice exists now.

      Oh, you mean forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for “vouchers” so in theory the illusion of choice exists.

      1. Re: Peter Caca,

        School choice exists now.

        Liar.

      2. Oh, you mean forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for “vouchers” so in theory the illusion of choice exists.

        Right, because allowing parents to use their tax dollars to send their kid to a school of their own choosing is totally ridiculous. As compared to a family’s tax dollars being forcibly used for public schools based on a set geographic area.

        Fuck the poor right? As long as government has control of things, even if poorer students are worse off, who cares?

        /sarc

  5. Telling prepubescent kids that the cocktail of hormones flowing through them means they are trans and some other class of oppressed people is really fucked up.

    Kids at 14 don’t know shit about shit.

  6. As straight students walk tentatively for their first day of school, I am picturing Governor Shackleford making his stand at the schoolhouse door in an effort to block them from entering the charter version of Pride School Atlanta.

    SCOTT SHACKLEFORD: SEGREGATIONIST. (In case I was too subtle above.)

    1. Next thing you know, he’ll be calling for state’s rights. Disgusting.

  7. Under the gender-neutral restroom policy students voted for, he tried the men’s restrooms but discovered he still prefers the women’s.

    Heh.

  8. Gender neutral restrooms still have men’s and women’s restrooms?

  9. Damn, Shackford, that’s some brilliant trolling. Well-done.

    I agree with AIM’s take above, but only up to a point. Remember that gay kids pop up in all kinds of families and your typical family is going to want what’s best for their child.

  10. Private schools: the best for everyone involved. Which is why they must be stopped!!

  11. In any group of 100 kids 1.5 to 5 of them will be gay, statistically speaking.

    In any group of 1000 kids, being VERY generous, 1 of them will have gender dysphoria.

    You need 5 or 6 hundred kids to generate a single class of gay kids(25-30 at the 5/100 level)

    And 30,000 to get a class of gender dysphoric kids.

    How many kids does it take to generate a school full? Are there enough kids in Atlanta?

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