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December 16th, 2008
03:44 PM ET

Obama’s pick for education secretary pushed for gay high school

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/16/transition.wrap/art.tue.afp.gi.jpg caption="Arne Duncan listens Tuesday as President-elect Obama announces him as his choice for education secretary."]

David Brody
CBN News

Obama’s new pick for Education secretary is Arne Duncan, head of Chicago Public Schools. He’s been pushing for Chicago to start their first gay high school. Not kidding.

Obama is going to get a lot of flack over this pick from social conservative groups and it wouldn’t surprise me if Republican Senators raise a fuss about this during his confirmation hearing. Mark my words. Read below from The Chicago Tribune:

The Chicago Public Schools' first high school designed for gay, lesbian and transgender teens is among 20 new schools recommended to the school board today by CPS Chief Arne Duncan.

The proposed schools range from technology-focused high schools to the School for Social Justice Pride Campus, which officials said would cater to but not focus exclusively on gay youth.

Backers said they envision a small high school offering a college-preparatory curriculum in which students would take four years each of English and math, three years each of foreign languages and science, as well as fine arts and physical education. It would be a performance school, meaning it would have the same staffing and oversight requirements as other district schools.

The announcement of the schools, which are expected to open in the fall of 2009 and 2010, took place at the Chicago International Charter School's Ralph Ellison Campus, 1817 W. 80th St. Public hearings on the proposed schools are expected before the Board of Education votes on them Oct. 22.

"If you look at national studies, you see gay and lesbian students with high dropout rates...Studies show they are disproportionately homeless," Duncan said. "I think there is a niche there we need to fill."

Supporters have said the Pride Campus would help students find a safe school environment because studies have shown that gay youth are at a greater risk of dropping out of school and abusing drugs and alcohol, and are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide. A 2003 district survey shows that gay and lesbian youths are three times more likely to miss school because they don't feel safe.

Opponents have called the move a misuse of public funds. At a recent public hearing on the proposal, some gay rights advocates have said the move would segregate these students and said the district should work more on fostering acceptance by mainstream students, teachers and other school officials.

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soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Brandi - bottom of the boot

    k, i dont see anything wrong with it if it is done for the safety of the kids. however, i do think it goes against gay rights. its like segregation all over again. but i dont think anything is wrong if the man put an idea out there in an attempt to help or accomodate people in some way.

    December 16, 2008 at 6:20 pm |
  2. Nicole S

    Everyone needs to feel safe, especially in high school, creating a school like this would set a national example of equality for everyone, as a nation we need to start to focusing on our similarities and stop making a big deal out of our differences.

    December 16, 2008 at 6:20 pm |
  3. pati mc., camp hill, pa

    “I think there is a niche there we need to fill.” – David, that statement says it all quite plainly.

    Every child in this democracy is deserving of a decent education in a safe and productive environment. Every child. No matter if they are poor, or well to do, black, hispanic, asian, or white. Every child is not a difficult concept. All means all.

    Why does this proposal make Arne a loose cannon liberal? He is simply fighting for the rights of every child. It really is that simple.

    December 16, 2008 at 6:15 pm |
  4. Tammy, Berwick. LA

    I have mixed feelings on this. I think all kids need to figure out how to work with others in the world. Schools can be a microcosm of society in general and teach life skills that have far reaching effects beyond what is learned in academia. That's the ideal. And with NCLB, most school teachers are lucky if they can teach Susie how to pass her high stakes test so her school won't lose dollars. Hey, we teach the tests in public education these days instead of kids. Who hasn't gotten the memo in eight years? Because school teachers don't teach life skills anymore, apparently parents and guardians don't, and marginalized kids are left to figure it out on their own, this school for GLBT kids sounds like an awesome idea. My baby cousin offed himself at 19 because being gay was something he couldn't handle. I think maybe had he been given a safe haven for four years and known he was o.k. the way God made him, he might be here today. Oh the horrors of an education secretary who is forward thinking. What will Americans do?

    December 16, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  5. Cindy

    Duncan pushed for a gay high school!? WHY? Can they not go to school like regular people or are we going backwards to the segregation times? How ridiculous!?

    Cindy...Ga.

    December 16, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  6. Heather

    Good! Instead of this insane teaching-to-the-test, he's for giving students the opportunity to learn programs they want in an environment they feel safe in. I would have preferred a high-school that supported arts and alternative learning methods over the severely lacking 'education' I supposedly got.

    December 16, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  7. Annie Kate

    I don't think a gay high school is a good idea at all. It brings up the "separate but equal" argument again and we all know from history and experience that separate is definitely not equal. Plus in segregating the gay youth from everyone else only helps fuel homophobia. Singling gays out for their own high school in their teen years may very well saddle them with 2nd class citizenship as adults. We need to work on courses for everyone in acceptance – acceptance of gays, etc. and acceptance of people in general who are not mirrors of ourselves. That prepares everyone better for the real world – where there is no segregation for gays. I don't think this is a way to solve anything. We all need to learn to accept the diversity of people around us and to rejoice in it.

    December 16, 2008 at 4:35 pm |