Gay high school could open on Obama’s home turf

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

Chicago’s head of public schools Arne Duncan has outlined plans for a possible gay school in the city.

The school would be a measure to combat high rates of suicide and depression amongst gay and lesbian students.

Mr Duncan hopes to create a school where half the students are gay and all students would have an interest in social justice. He said:

“If you look at national studies, you see gay and lesbian students with high dropout rates, studies show they are disproportionately homeless.”

“I think there is a niche there we need to fill.”

The school would be called the Pride Campus of Social Justice High School, and would accommodate 600 students.

The school’s curriculum would promote learning about gay and lesbian “heroes” such as writers Gertrude Stein and James Baldwin.

Planners hope for the school to open in 2010, if, at the end of this month, the Chicago Public Schools board allows the establishment to go ahead.

Not all Chicago residents are enthusiastic about the plans for the school.

Gay rights advocates have claimed that the school would only segregate gay and lesbian students, and that acceptance and tolerance in mainstream schools should be targetted

Political director for Eqality Illanois told the Chicago Sun-Times that he does not like the idea of segregation. He said:

“Every kid should be safe in every school. If we’re going to set up a separate school, why don’t we put the bullies in those schools?”

Laurie Higgins, with the Illinois Family Institute, told

“Kids who have sexual attractions toward their same sex are not inherently, fundamentally different people who have different needs, so… I think there’s a problem with separating them out.”

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama was formerly an Illinois state senator, covering parts of Chicago.

When pressed for a comment on the proposals for the gay school, the Obama campaign remained evasive, issuing this statement:

“Senator Obama believes we must work to ensure that all schools foster an environment free of violence, harassment and bullying, and he has introduced legislation to keep our schools safe.”