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LGBT Schools set to open in UK and USA

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The wheels are in motion for the United States and Great Britain to open schools specifically for LGBT students. These schools are being set up as a response to high rates of bullying reported by LGBT teens, as a means to reduce bullying, abuse and self-harm within the community.

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The University of Western Sydney released their Growing Up Queer report last year, which revealed high rates of homophobic behavior in Australian schools. 64% of students reported homophobia related verbal abuse, while 18% reported physical attacks. Furthermore, as many as 33% of young people admit to self harm and 16% had attempted suicide.

British group LGBT Youth North West reached out to the community and students suggested creating a high school for gay, lesbian and gender diverse students. Currently in early stages of consultation, the school is designed to be LGBTIQ inclusive, but not to exclude those who do not identify as LGBTIQ.

A representative for the youth group, Amelia Lee, clarifies that the intention is not to segregate the community further, “If all these young people were in mainstream schools and doing well, there’d be no issue. But if people are not able to go to school now, then we can either say – ‘tough luck, your fault, you can’t handle it in the mainstream, or we can actually say well let’s listen, let’s see what’s going on for you and how we can make things better for you”.

While there are no designs for an LGBT school in Australia’s near future, there is a Safe Schools Coalition in place, whereby schools can opt in to advertise themselves as safe environments for LGBT students. Some believe this is not enough. 16 year old Australian student, Alex, identifies as agender and believes the schools would be a step forward for Australian LGBT youth. Alex also offers alternative solutions, suggesting a more inclusive sexual education programme. “Add more more LGBTI information. Because even if they’re not LGBTI themselves, they need to be educated”, Alex suggests. “Talk about gender, talk about sexuality, talk about safe sex. Inter-sex people as well, and asexuality”.

Leigh Hill

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