‘Life-saving’ middle school for LGBTQ+ youth set to open in Arizona

trans kids walking to school

A middle school for LGBTQ+ youth, described as “life-saving” for its future pupils, is set to open in Arizona. 

The Queer Blended Learning Center, a “micro-school” for up to a dozen students, will open its doors in Phoenix in August. Traditional classes such as maths and reading will be taught alongside LGBTQ+ history and social studies.

The school, which will be housed at the Phoenix headquarters of LGBTQ+ youth charity, one•n•ten, currently has six students enrolled, and is looking to expand to accommodate 10 to 12 pupils, AZCentral reported.

Leaders of the school programme said it will be life-saving for queer children in the face of growing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the US – more than 570 such bills have been introduced in America so far this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. 

Arizona governor Katie Hobbs has refused to sign several bills in recent months, including a ban on trans people using the correct toilets. Last month, the Democrat vowed to “veto every bill that aims to attack and harm children”. 

Nate Rhoton, the chief executive of one•n•ten, told AZCentral: “Nationally, LGBTQ youth are under attack legislatively… it’s deadly to the youth we serve.”

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He added that programmes such as the Queer Blended Learning Center are “absolutely necessary and life-saving for the young people we will reach”. 

The school, which will deliver classes partly in-person and partly online, will be funded through Arizona’s school voucher programme, which allows all school-age children in the state to receive public funding for private school tuition.

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Rhoton went on to say: “We [have] sixth, seventh and eighth graders who could benefit from a safe space to be able to have exceptional education while also having education that pertains to their own identity.”

A similar “micro-school” for small numbers of LGBTQ+ students has opened in Atlanta, Georgia, with another planned for Las Vegas

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