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Obama's Education Secretary Supports Gay High Schools

Obama's Education Secretary Supports Gay High Schools


Yesterday Obama announced Arne Duncan, head of the Chicago school system, as education secretary. With the reputation of a tough, results-gettin' reformer and an agenda to make schools so competitive you'll think you're in a Korean prep school, his appointment on paper sounds like an A. Minus.

He chilled his reputation in the Windy City this Fall with the proposal of a gay-friendly school. Not surprisingly, it was met with resistance. After a few edits — sexual orientation — he reproposed it as a safe haven for all bullied students. But at the last minute he withdrew the plan, promising a revised version next year.

Opposition came not only from social conservatives but also from liberals and, let's be inclusive, moderate conservatives who called it segregation. And right, I get it. At first light, it does sound like a plan to hoard gay teens in a separate school lined with rainbow-colored lockers; however, after reading about New York City's gay high school, I decided it's not. To find out why, read more.

Not every, or even close to every, gay teen will attend a gay-friendly school. They are for teens who are ostracized by families and peers, often homeless, and more likely to drop out. More Rickie from My So-Called Life and less (OK way less) Eric van der Woodsen from Gossip Girl. It's nothing more than a niche school for at-risk students, like schools for pregnant teens and young mothers, as a part of the increasing trend to break large schools down to small, specialized ones that better serve communities.

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