LGBT school is still a ‘couple of years’ away

LGBT school is still a ‘couple of years’ away

Plans for a school for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people in Manchester have yet to be opened for consultation.

On Friday, national media reports said that the charity LGBT Youth North West planned to open an LGBT-focused school in the city.

However, the charity later clarified that the “plans” are in the very early stages and there has not yet been a consultation.

The confusion began when the charity issued a press release stating that it had received £63,000 funding from Manchester City Council to run an LGBT centre in the city.

The release said: “One of the plans from LGBT Youth North West, which manages the building, is to use the centre to create an LGBT-inclusive school, similar to the famous Harvey Milk High School in New York City.

“LGBT schools are designed for – but not limited to – gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people, as well as those questioning their sexuality.”

Media reports suggested the school would cater for 40 full-time and 20 part-time pupils.

However, the charity later clarified that any plans were at an early stage.

Amelia Lee, strategic director for LGBT Youth North West, said: “We want to clarify that this is just an idea at the moment and there is no funding for it.

“It would be LGBT inclusive, and not exclusive, as we can’t do that with public money.

“There is a general consultation on the plans for the building, but nothing about a school at the moment. We would have to do focused consultations on that, and it would take at least a couple of years to get a good enough steer.”

On its website, the charity said: “If we explore setting up an alternative education provision, this provision will be open to all pupils, and we would expect many pupils to not be LGBT.”

David-Weston-cutout

David Weston (pictured), chief executive of the Teacher Development Trust and co-ordinator of Outteacher.org, said: “We should be making all schools inclusive and not giving in to abuse and sending the signal that LGBT children are any different or less able to take part in school.

“That said, some school leaders and staff clearly need more support, and occasionally more challenge, to help them to become tolerant and their schools more welcoming of diversity.

“I’m a huge believer in children seeing LGBT people as just a normal part of life, through role models and in conversation and lessons.

“Specialist units that help schools to strongly challenge bullying around LGBT issues and support teachers with supporting students are a great idea . . . perhaps even a few centres where some vulnerable students can spend some of their curriculum time, on a temporary basis, to support them back in to mainstream school.

“However, full-time schools for LGBT students on a permanent basis seems to me a wholly undesirable idea – I’d rather see the money spent on supporting school diversity and tolerance.”