Chicago Mayor Comes Out Against Gay High School

Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley’s long been a pro-gay advocate, but that doesn’t mean he’s backing the city’s potential gay high school. In fact, he’s against it.

One day after his handpicked school board put off a vote on the School for Social Justice Pride Campus, Daley explained why — by expressing his misgivings.

“You have to look at whether or not you isolate and segregate children. A holistic approach has always been to have children of all different backgrounds– in schools. When you start isolating children and you say, ‘Only 50 percent here, 40 percent here’ — same thing we went through with the disabled — then you want to do that when they’re adults,” Daley said.

“It’s controversial. Some people are for it. Some are against it– The Board of Education has to make the decision whether it’s good for isolating children. I don’t know– I’m just saying that’s one of the problems– You start identifying them.”

We actually agree with this one. Removing gay kids from potentially hostile environments may protect them, yes, but it does nothing to tackle the real problem: pervasive homophobia.

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  • kelly

    Then school boards need to step up to the plate and have a no tolerance policy on homophobia instead of the token wrist-slaps that are the norm. Some of these kids are so mentally tormented throughout their school years that they spend the rest of their lives trying to overcome it. Yes, I’m speaking from experience.

  • Paul Raposo

    Removing gay kids from potentially hostile environments may protect them, yes, but it does nothing to tackle the real problem: pervasive homophobia.

    Tell that to Lawrence King.

  • ChicagoJimmy

    You make a very clear point Paul. I’m conflicted about this issue, but it’s really hard to argue with that.

  • Mark

    You know, I’ve lived in Chicago for 20 years. All of that time Daley has been mayor. Generally, the city has totally transformed into a world class place to live under his care.

    But I must disagree with him here. He’s not gay. He doesn’t understand the extent to which gay kids have to endure harassment.

    Sorry, Rich. You’re missing the point on this one.

  • praenomenal

    I am of two minds on this. We cannot separate ourselves, but I would have run to a school like that as a child, I would have started my transition much earlier. I dunno.

  • cwm

    Until being gay is no big deal, this kind of school serves an important purpose.

    If it saves just a few kids from repeated bullying and suicide, I’m all for it.

    In nearly all schools with bullying “policies”, it’s a piece of paper intended to protect them from lawsuits. They continue to tolerate bullying, which proves the policies are just a piece of paper.

    How many of you were told, “Why don’t you stand up for yourself?” (when you were being brutalized by mobs, and no one would help you)…or, “You bring it on yourself, because you’re not like the other kids.”

  • Justin Allen

    Gay Kids must have their own school, just as religious groups have theirs. Do we have to wait until a kid gets beat or hurt or harshly verbally abused to get the point that people do not like gays and never will? There is discrimination and there is hate and there always will be, perhaps not with everybody, but with some, and ultimately, we must protect gay children from those few. How horrible to do otherwise. I am for once disappointed in Queerty’s opinion on this.

  • brian

    I have to agree with Daley. I do not think that we need to segregate gay youth. But if he is going to oppose the new school he better purpose other solutions to this problem.

  • Jude

    I agree with Brian. Segregation is not the solution in my opinion. A lot of good can come from gay kids in high school, it can lead to a more tolerant society IMO. Kids who might turn homophobic won’t because they befriend a kid who turns out to be gay… but it’s true, the board of education has to step up to the plate when it comes to protecting those kids.

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    My lesbian sister and I really would have preferred a Gay School just to learn without straight bullying. Mayor Daley seems to identify with the Bullies. Pity, he wasn’t that bad before-hand (despite the Dynastic control over Chi-Town!)

  • bobito

    I’m not sure how well it would work out – on the one hand, the day-to-day life of gay students would be more tolerable without being harrassed, and it would be interesting to see if the number one criteria for success in high school – popularity – would have a different dynamic for these students, and what they might accomplish without directing so much of their energy toward achieving some kind of popularity in a social system that basically loathes people like them.

    On the other hand, inter-school competitions (cultural, athletic or scholastic) would most likely become incredibly negative situations, and rampant homophobia on the parts of teachers as well as students would become a more acceptable norm in the non-gay schools. (And pity the poor gay boy who hasn’t got it figured out yet in a non-gay school! Not to mention the legions of teens going through bisexual confusion… where will they go to school?) When school is over, there will be an immensely ignorant and misinformed straight society in Chicago for gay people to cope with. Chicago was segregated for a much longer time than most northern US cities – and still is so in many neighborhoods. The racial tension in the city, while apparently improved, is still a problematic issue.

    I certainly understand Daley’s misgivings. However, his example about the disabled is a case in point – those kids were horribly bullied by other students in my Chicago elementary school. It was sickening to see how even the non-bully students thought that was totally okay, and even worse to observe the humiliation endured at the hands of the teachers in the classrooms.

    Unless every student is able to attend school without having to endure daily abuse and threats of physical violence – unless they’re ready to start dealing with the very real problem of homophobia in the schools in a way that is as real and immediate as the problem – then the gay school seems to be the best, albeit far from perfect, solution.

  • psy

    “Seperate” never was or will be “equal”. Sometimes society never learns unless we’re forced to live and work together. Sure, it might be bad for gay kids in school, but it’s a lot better than it was a decade ago, and sure as hell isn’t going to get any better simply by segregation. Didn’t work for the blacks, and it won’t work for gays.

  • Smokey Martini

    The way to dispel of homophobic bullying in school is not to remove the gay kids. Gay kids or no gay kids, the homophobia will still exist. What we need is an education system that (a) THOROUGHLY teaches principles of diversity and difference, and (b) ACTIVELY reprimands bigotry and bullying. With enough consistency in application, school environments should improve. Although, the success of such a program would also depend on the student’s home environment and the values they are taught by their parents.

    If anything, there should be a separate school developed for bullies where they are taken away and taught said principles of diversity. Only after the completion of such a program, would a student be re-integrated into the classroom with all his/her other students.

    This sounds like more reasonable and proactive solution, if you ask me.

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