Atlanta, Georgia is the site for the South's first private school that will cater to students and teachers who feel disenfranchised, unaccepted, and/or bullied at public school.
Founded by transgender teacher Christian Zsilavetz, Pride School will be a full kindergarten through high school institution designed for LGBT students, yet is for anyone who needs a safe place for "being different."
“Kids have full permission to be themselves — as well as educators," Zsilavets said. "Where there’s no wondering, ‘Is this teacher going to be a person for me to be myself with?' This is a place where they can just open up and be the best person they can be.”
The school will open in September with tuition set at $13,000, though financial assistance will be made available. For now, it plans to meet out of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta church, according to Yahoo News.
It's said to be modeled after the famed gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk school in New York City. Pride School's motto is: "Where freedom to be becomes your new reality." Its mission: "To provide LGBTQQIAA students, families and educators a safe, fun and rigorous learning environment free of homophobia and transphobia - a place that honors their identities so they can be themselves, find themselves, and find friends and mentors who can help them navigate the challenges of life and education."
Pride School would be a so-called Free Model school with a setup more unstructured than traditional schools, where students’ interests are supposed to drive what they learn.
Zsilavetz, 45, who’s taught math and other subjects since 1992, says he never felt truly open or supported by administrators while teaching in public schools and wanted that to change. He wanted LGBT students and teachers to be able to openly discuss who they are in a school setting without fear.
“When (LGBT) kids can see you, when they know that they can come to you, they’re less likely to die (or be suicidal), for one,” Zsilavetz said. “They’re less likely to get pregnant, when they don’t really want to get pregnant. They’re less likely to get into drugs and alcohol and into depression.”
“I think right now what a lot of (LGBT) students face is separate but equal education in the public schools,” he said. “Because if you can’t go to the bathroom all day and you can’t use the locker room and you’re bullied in the classroom and the teachers aren’t standing up for you, you don’t have a full seat at the table.”
A commenter, Elle, from the Yahoo page captures the reality of this new segregation with a reminder that there will be no safe space waiting for them once they graduate:
There's been stories of school shootings targeting Muslims or Catholics, let's give THEM a school each!
Let's give bullied overweight children a school to themselves as well. Let's give poor children who get bullied because they can't afford high end book bags, fancy shoes and stationery a school to themselves.
Hell, how bout a blacks only school?
This is promoting segregation and when has that ever been good? This is going to evolve into a school for children who just want to be different. What's worse, they start from young, so when they graduate, they'll find that there are no segregated workplaces for LGBT only, no LGBT only restaurants or neighbourhoods etc. then where will they be? It'll just become a never ending cycle of LGBT people complaining that nothing is handed to them.
This is the world we live in, like it or not, straight is the norm and any otherwise is going to have to adapt to get through it. Gay people in other countries have been executed, stoned etc. Realize how good you have it in the states