It wasn't long ago I was walking the halls of a Southern California high school unsure of myself, desperately trying to fit in, and questioning my sexuality. I thought no one understood me. I didn't even understand my own feelings. And I never saw coming out as an option. The closest I got to anything gay were the rumors of a guy that was bisexual. I dared not be the topic of discussion for hundreds of vocal kids. There were others who shared this fear, and rightly so. According to the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States 69% of LGBTQ youth reported experiencing some form of harassment or violence while in school. 86.7% of LGBTQ youth reported sometimes or frequently hearing homophobic remarks.
The Hetrick-Martin Institute, who's mission is to foster the development of the LGBTQ community, responded to these and other alarming statistics with The Harvey Milk School, established to offer queer youth a safe environment for education free of the violence and abuse kids face at other institutions.
The Harvey Milk School has been around since 1984 but received national attention when The Hetrick-Martin Institute, it's parent organization and the New York City Department of Education (DOE) collaborated to make HMS an accredited 4-year public high school in New York City. The DOE provided HMS with $3.2 million for renovations and expansion. However, the school continues to operate from independent funding.
LGBTQ kids will still have the option to attend others schools in their zoned area. HMS predicts 1.7% of queer youths in New York will attend the school and boasts an impressive 95% graduation rate and
60% college acceptance rate.
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