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Homosexual schools

Green, J. (1991, October 13). This school is out. The New York Times Magazine, pp. 32-33.

OVERVIEW

Harvey Milk, a gay San Francisco supervisor, was murdered in 1978 by a jealous political rival. Today in New York City, young gay people are given the opportunity to change their lives and receive an education in the essentials (grammar, algebra, and survival) at a school named after him. In this article, Green describes the rough backgrounds from which many of these homosexual youth come: some were beaten by angry peers, others by disgruntled parents. The school is the product of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a non-profit organization that provides counseling and other services to homosexual kids. The school is also fully accredited by the board of education and is run through the alternative high school programs division.

One of the teachers that Green mentions (and elevates to near-hero) is Fred Goldhaber. This gay man is also a member of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. He is even compared at one point to Mr. Rogers. The article, clearly pro-homosexual, states that "a choice has been made to favor too much freedom over too much control, and if this dilutes the education, at least it’s less imposing to kids who are used to thinking of school—and life—as grim." The other full-time teacher is a heterosexual female: Monica Fisholf. She says that she works with the kids so that they can "see that straight people love them." The self-described mission of Harvey-Milk is narrow: to reintegrate kids into traditional school or, failing that, into society-at-large by providing them a safe haven, free from censure, in which to come to terms with themselves and pursue their diplomas.

The school, which opened in 1985, is the first and lone of its kind. It has been openly condemned and picketed by fundamentalists who argue that Judeo-Christian tradition condemns homosexual activity as a sin. Fisholf, an orthodox Jew, continues in this work, stating that she feels that "this is what God has called be to do...I wish that every straight person could know these kids the way I do."

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION

  1. Do you agree with the concept of a homosexual school?
  2. Is such a school different from other alternative high schools?
  3. What are other possible solutions to protect homosexual kids who are violently abused by their peers and parents?
  4. What would you do if a homosexual teenager walked into your youth group? What do you think Jesus would do?

IMPLICATION

This program is not perfect, and there is the conspicuous absence in the school (and the article) of the need for value-teaching and a discussion of the place of homosexuality. However, this article brings to light the glaring abandonment of the church of the homosexual community. Seen as taboo for so long, this issue has been labeled "hands-off" by the clergy and, as a result, homosexuals have been ostracized from the youth. As increasing numbers of homosexual youth are claiming homosexuality, youth programs are going to have to find new ways to educate themselves, understand, and reach out to these troubled kids.

Bill Finley cCYS