For Fan Wu, and countless other LGBT students, the solution to high-school bullying in Toronto may be in the creation of a gay-centric high school.
“I experienced a culture in which I could not speak about my sexuality to the rest of my school,” says Wu. “So I would say that although the bullying is not overt, I would call it a sort of covert bullying.”
Wu is proposing the creation of a charter school devoted to academic excellence, open to all but providing a safe haven to LGBT students. Similar schools exist in the U.S., including the Harvey Milk School in New York.
But not everyone in the community agrees with the plan. In fact, some of the most vocal opponents include members and supporters of the gay community, like Toronto P-FLAG president Irene Miller. “What you’re doing is saying: ‘If we take away all the kids who are being bullied, then the bullying stop,” says Miller. “What we should be doing is take away all the bullies and the bullying will stop. It’s the wrong end of the stick.”
Activist Raymond Miller (no relation) also takes exception to the idea but argues the problem needs to be addressed much earlier than freshman year. “By the time [students] get to high school, they’ve already learned to hate. The hell for me was ages 7 to 14. I was getting the gay slurs around age 8 on a daily basis.” Mr. Miller’s solution? Take Wu’s proposal and apply it to the existing public-school system: “It’s not just gay kids that need to learn about LGBT people throughout history and our worth. It’s the non-gay students.”
So far it remains to see if the city will adopt Wu’s plan: A forum was held on Wednesday at a local community center but the plan was ultimately tabled for a year.
What do you think: Is segregation the answer to chronic bullying or is it unfair to remove the victims instead of the perpetrators? File your report in the comment section.