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Home Opinions First gay school opens in New York: Sign me up for this!

First gay school opens in New York: Sign me up for this!

Would heterosexuals go to a mostly gay high school? This hetero would, and I will tell you why.

When I first heard about the creation of an all-gay high school, I wasn’t entirely sure it would be a good idea. The obvious reason was, how can we fully integrate the homosexual community into the mainstream if we separate it out in the education system?

But after reading about this school, I learned that separation and segregation is not what this school is about, and it will have a positive effect on society.

The Harvey Milk School, named after San Francisco’s first openly gay city supervisor, who was assassinated in 1978, is being managed by a well-established organization called the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI). This institute and its educational program have been helping young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals overcome constant harassment since 1984. HMI also helps LGBTQ students avoid dropping out of high school. Only now, in 2003, is the program receiving city funding and its own building in Manhattan’s East Village.

Is the school exclusive to only gay students? Not at all. When you go to the HMI Web site,, you can view the application for admission and it is no different than applying to enter any private or parochial school. The applicants must be residents of New York City, and, if they are under 18, their parents have to accompany them to the interviews.

Currently, the school is only able to admit 100 students. Acceptance isn’t easy, but the application never asks if the applying student is gay.

Can heterosexuals apply and enter the Harvey Milk School? Absolutely. The Web site says that the school is to provide a “safe and supportive learning environment for young people, including LGBTQ youth.” If I felt threatened at my high school because I was being harassed (and if I lived in New York City), no matter my sexual preference, I could apply to and attend Harvey Milk.

This school isn’t meant to create an entirely separate school system just for gays, but rather its purpose is to create an alternative for those who are made to feel so uncomfortable they cannot attend their assigned public school.

Not everyone has accepted this as a great opportunity for high school students, but this isn’t surprising. No matter where you go, people will always manage to be more close-minded than you expect.

According to, when Harvey Milk opened its doors on Sept. 8, there were protesters demonstrating against it. The best part is there were only 10 protesters in a sea of 200 supporters. I guess the anti-gay movement isn’t as motivated as it used to be.

A state senator and conservative legal group recently filed a lawsuit claiming that the school violates segregation laws, but I don’t see it going anywhere. The school, which does not discriminate acceptance to any individual, has the support of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

There is a reason why I often choose to go to gay bars and clubs over straight ones, even though I am not gay. And it’s the same reason I would go to a gay high school as a heterosexual. Overall, the gay community is much more accepting and open-minded, and you are really allowed to have a good time. Plus, drag queens really know how to party.


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