Monday, July 28, 2003

Gay High

Somehow this strikes me as a bad idea. I’m all in favor of shielding gay students from physical and psychological abuse, of course, and maybe that alone is enough to justify the creation of a new gays-only school. But it’s a pretty damning indictment of the NYC public schools’ disciplinary system if they have to segregate people in order to protect them against violence.

In addition, the existence of a school for gays will bolster the bigoted belief that gays are so different from the rest of us that they need to be quarantined. And it makes it even more likely that young people in their crucial bigotry-forming years won’t be exposed to any real live gay people. I realize transferring will be voluntary, but that won’t challenge the impression that is created in the minds of students. The option will soon become an expectation on the part of bigoted students. “Why don’t you go to Gay High, queer!” will be the new taunt of choice.

Furthermore (and here’s where I might hack some people off), I think it’s unwise for kids to categorize their sexuality at such a young age. High school students are bubbling cauldrons of hormones, fears, anxieties, and sudden impulses. They may not really know what their actual orientation is until years later. Yes, I’m sure that lots of gay people realize their orientation with great certitude early in life (many have told me so). But there have to be many others who do not; I’m betting that women are overrepresented in this category. In the narrow environment of a single-orientation school, students with second thoughts may feel trapped by rash decisions made early on. Worse yet, they might even feel pressure to conform, since a choice to go straight means having to switch schools.

On the upside, I can’t wait to hear what the school’s mascot is.

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