Plan For LGBT School In Toronto Meets With Opposition From Gay Community

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.

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  • Thomathy

    I won’t answer the loaded question the author asks at the end of the article, but I will say that this is a terrible idea, the idea of a segregated school for LGBTQ students.

    It’s a bad idea first and foremost because it won’t stop bullying. It may stop bullying directed at a particular trait or characteristic, but it won’t stop the bullying of these kids altogether. This ignores the problem of closeted students who get bullied because of their perceived sexuality, gender expression or sex or straight students in the same position. It doesn’t help students who, for whatever reason can’t come out at home, but who are out at school. It also sends exactly the wrong message to the bullies and to society at large. That message is that the people who are different from you, whom you are bigoted toward are others who can just be kept separate from you. Simply, this does nothing to address the attitudes that result in the bullying of people because of their sexuality, gender expression or sex and it does nothing to keep safe those who are, arguably, the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community.

    Ontario just passed a particularly good piece of anti-bullying legislation that includes provisions with thinking toward LGBTQ students. Clearly, if there is a problem, and there certainly is, then what needs to be done is to step up anti-bullying education and the normalisation of the LGBTQ community through extant programmes such as history and social studies.

    It doesn’t help to segregate anyone and it doesn’t address larger societal issues like bullying and the acceptance of LGBTQ people to create a place, however well intended, that merely keeps some students safe from some kinds of bullying.

  • tidalpool

    As a man who went thru the better part of my schoolhood days being poked fun at, harrassed, bullied and physically attacked for my orientation, I can appreciate the need to avoid all that if possible. For heavens sakes, I was called a ‘fag’ before I even knew what it was. I never even met a gay person untill I had been out of HS for 3 years. I never even dreamed about a man or had a fantasy untill I was 18, due to the extreme fear I had in aknowledging I was gay. The damage done to my spirit and soul was incalcuable, and even though I can see where gay kids being segregated in their own school could make them targets, if any of them could avoid the ordeal I went thru, and many just like me in othe schools, in other towns, I vote for the protection of a school, perhaps with gay teachers as well. To be able to go to school and breath is a wonderful thought, to be able to ask dumb questions about your own sexuality w/o getting bashed! I can only imagine. Its not the best solution, its not the right solution, but in a world of str8 kids with the attitudes I was confronted with, its still a huge plus!

  • GregJamesNewman

    I have to agree with Irene Miller in the article. We are looking at the wrong end of the spectrum here! I think we need to remove the bullies from the school. Where I went to high school, troubled students were in a different school. We need to create COMPLETE ZERO TOLERENCE schools! NO bullying will be tolerated. Harsh as it may be, these students wont be seperated for life. Life will knock them down after they get out of high school unfortunately

  • balehead

    It’s just as sad as the black nly school they created…segregation is wrong…plus most bullys were all gay’s…

  • jsmith

    So the answer to bullying is to put all the afflicted into one location? This just spells genius maneuver. Gays come n all shapes and sizes. If they weren’t bullied before you’be gone ahead and placed a target on their back. Bullying is wrong, so why make it easy for them?

  • Little-Kiwi

    the general consensus in the city is pretty much this: that this is even being talked about shows there’s a need that is not being met.

    two things need to happen:

    1. LGBT Inclusivity workshops, dialogues, education need to start happening. At an elementary school level.

    2. Until that education produces the culture of understanding we’re all working toward there should absolutely be a safe-haven educational facility for students who are slipping through the cracks, who do not feel safe, so they can complete their education, and become empowered.

    we need to curb anti-gay prejudice and that starts with education, at a young age, before children learn to hate and discriminate. because HATRED is learned.

    and until that kicks in money should be pumped into the alternative programs to aid the at-risk kids.

    Oh, and one little correction: the Millers – that’s my mum and i. we are related ;)

  • ait10101

    Segregate the bullies. Schools for bullies only.

  • Bascha

    We need to fix the bullies. My 10 year old nephew sometimes acts like gay things are “weird” when they are brought up on TV or in public somewhere, almost like he is plain ol’ freaked out by them. I know it’s not his parents giving him reason to think this way, and it probably isn’t what he watches on TV and in movies since all of that stuff tries to be inclusive and politically correct all the time. Most likely, it is him talking to other kids his age and hearing hateful and mocking things from them, which they most likely hear from their parents. You’re never going to change all of the adults in the world with their anti-gay mindsets, but if we educate the kids at an earlier age hate like this will be weeded out over time.

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