First gay high school opens in NYC
N E W Y O R K, July 28— A small alternative public school program has been expanded into a full-fledged school for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.
The Harvey Milk High School, an expansion of a 1984 city program consisting of two small classrooms for gay students, will enroll about 100 students and will open in the fall.
"I think everybody feels that it's a good idea because some of the kids who are gays and lesbians have been constantly harassed and beaten in other schools," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a briefing today. "It lets them get an education without having to worry. It solves a discipline problem. And from a pedagogical point of view, this administration — and previous administrations — have thought it was a good idea and we'll continue with that."
The school, at 2 Astor Place in the East Village, is undergoing a $3.2 million renovation approved by the old Board of Education last year.
The Hetrick-Martin Institute, a gay-rights youth advocacy group that has managed and financed the program since its inception, has hired William Salzman as principal of the new school.
Salzman is a former Wall Street executive who most recently served as assistant principal of guidance and business at Brooklyn's Automotive High School.
Salzman told the New York Post in today's editions that the school will be academically challenging and will follow Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's mandatory English and math programs. It also will specialize in computer technology, arts and culinary arts.
Program Draws Some Criticism
State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long criticized the creation of the school.
"Is there a different way to teach homosexuals? Is there gay math? This is wrong," Long told the Post. "There's no reason these children should be treated separately."
On its Web site, the Hetrick-Martin Institute describes the Harvey Milk School as "the nation's first accredited public high school designed to meet the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth (LGBTQ)."
It says the school "offers LGBTQ youth an opportunity to obtain a secondary education in a safe and supportive environment. … We believe that success requires the ability to respect and value the diverse human community."
The school is named after San Francisco's first openly gay city supervisor, Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978 along with Mayor George Moscone.