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Gay-Friendly, Internet Approved

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The first known online high school for gay and lesbian students in the United States is set to open in January, reports the Pioneer Press .

Officials with the GLBTQ Online High School, based in Maplewood, Minn., are currently sorting through student and faculty applications from all over the country.

GLBTQ Online High School is the brainchild of David Glick, the first online learning coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Education. The school will cater specifically to gay, bisexual, and transgender students (although students of any age and sexuality can enroll), using a GLBTQ-friendly curriculum focused on “abolishing negative messages and highlighting gay, bisexual, and transgender people in history.”

"We may not bring people closer physically—but we will in every other way," Glick said. "We want to make them feel more confident about who they are."

While GLBTQ Online High School hopes to place students in a “safe and welcoming educational community” instead of a potentially intimidating school environment, some fear the school will only further their separation from society.

“The danger of the online high school is that kids will stay isolated and feel uncared for,” said David Johnson, a social-psychology professor at the University of Minnesota. “It would be much better to have these kids in a regular high school.”

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If anything, this event marks a regression in America's educational timeline. Not even half a century ago, people of all races, nationalities, and preferences were protesting in the streets to make our public schools more inclusive.
Now, it seems, we want them to be more exclusive. Those who would try to cloak this discrimination by calling it an "accommodation" or a "modification" are kidding themselves. We as educators have an obligation to make every student feel welcomed and accepted within the four walls of our classroom, wherever that may be. By setting aside a closed environment for gay students, what are we really telling them? "You're diffferent, so you don't get to experience a REAL classroom. Let's partition you off from the rest of mainstream society, because after all, we don't think you're capable of handling it." Gee, doesn't that sound progressive and contemporary?
By specializing and sectorizing an entire so-called "school" for students who are in some way diverse, we are setting the stage for a return to 1950s pre-civil rights era divisiveness.
Moreover, what of this alleged "gay friendly" curriculum? Since when have we educators excluded homosexual figures from our own curriculum?
No, no, no. This perceived "special" school represents nothing more than a metaphorical "burying of our heads in the sand." These are not juvenile delinquents or even convicted felons who may require a separate learning environment. They are students, plain and simple, and to set them aside or apart is a great injustice to our larger educational community. Classrooms should be a melting pot or a salad bowl, replete with differences and individuals. That bowl or pot, however, should never be filled with the monotone, uniform "mush" of yesteryear. Not only does such an environment fail to challenge students, it equally fails to challenge professional educators. Put simply, segregation is not progress. Never has been, never will be.

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