For months, one of the most controversial topics in the media has been the opening of an exclusively gay public high school in New York City. The Harvey Milk School attracted national attention when it received public funding for renovations and became a 4-year accredited public school. On Monday, September 8, 2003 Harvey Milk opened it's doors. Unfortunately Fred Phelps, minister of the Westboro Baptist Church and founder of godhatesamerica.com, organized an anti-gay protest similar to the demonstration given at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, where protesters waved signs proclaiming "God Hates Fags" and "AIDS Kills Fags Dead." In response, many peaceful demonstrators countered the messages of hate with ones of encouragement, applauding every student that entered the building.
Irrespective of your view toward the opening of the Harvey Milk School, anti-gay messages such as these are detrimental to the emotional wellbeing of GLBT teens seeking an educational environment free of harassment and violence. It's essential that queer youth receive as much, if not more, positive encouragement to aid in their development.
I am compiling letters of encouragement for gay teens to be presented to the administration of Harvey Milk in hopes that they will in turn be read to their students, creating a positive atmosphere. Click here to submit letters of encourage. Counterpoints concerning the opening of the school are also welcome.