Daley Calls Gay High School Isolating

Board of Ed has put off vote on Social Justice High

A controversial plan for a gay and lesbian-friendly high school in Chicago has been met with some high-powered resistance.

Mayor Richard M. Daley is blocking plans for the school, saying that it would amount to segregating children. 

"A holistic approach has always been to have children of all different backgrounds in schools. When you start isolating children and you say, ‘Only 50 percent here, 40 percent here’ -- same thing we went through with the disabled -- then you want to do that when they’re adults,” Daley said.

A spokesman for Equality Illinois, a political action group supporting gay and lesbian rights, agreed with Daley's opinion. 

Rick Garcia said the problem is not the gay students, but the students who bully them and use violence to make their point.

"Instead of a school for gay kids, maybe we need a school for the bullies. Gay kids are not the problem. Bullies and teachers and administrators who don’t stop the bullying are the problem," he said.

School CEO Arne Duncan had said the school would offer gay teenagers a feeling of safety.  Duncan said gay and lesbian students currently have high drop-out rates.

Earlier in the week, two parents at a Chicago Board of Education meeting made their opposition to plan known in no uncertain terms.

“The schools need to get out of the bedroom and back to the 3 R’s,” an angry Kathy Reese told the board.

“This is why Johnny still can’t read because the children are being used as pawns to further a political agenda. We should be helping them out of that lifestyle, not helping them into it,” Reese said.

Reese was one of two parents speaking out against the proposed Social Justice High recommended by schools CEO Arne Duncan for approval. Up for a vote Nov. 19, the school is proposed to open in 2010 and serve a 50/50 population of straight and gay students.

“We’re not proposing a homosexual high school,” Bill Greaves, Mayor Daley’s liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, told the board.  “Our purpose is to teach a rigorous college prep curriculum and provide a safe, affirming and supportive environment for all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students and their allies.”

The Board of Ed approved 13 new schools Wednesday and put off voting on five others -- including the Social Justice High School.

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