November 26, 2008

Chicago's Social Justice Solidarity High School Hits Snags

Chicago's Social Justice Solidarity High School Hits Snags

by Kelly Kilpatrick

The Windy City is in the throes of a firestorm of controversy regarding the proposed opening of the Social Justice Solidarity School (formerly the Social Justice High School, Pride Campus). The school states its charter is a lottery-based admission process and open to any student regardless of race, gender, religion, ability, or sexual orientation. However, given the school's originally proposed name, there's considerable consternation about who will really represent the school's student body.

The school's a good idea in theory. It would ostensibly be a safe haven for students who are being abused in other public schools. Often while teachers and administrators stand by and do nothing to help. In practice, removing students (even voluntarily) from their district schools because their sexual orientation makes life difficult for them is misguided. It further alienates them from their peers, acknowledges a "difference" and seems, at least to some degree, to give the bullies the upper hand.

Isn't a school like this really a band-aid on a much larger problem? Why should students with differing sexual orientations be cast aside from the rest of the students in a given district? Shouldn't the problems these students experience be addressed by Chicago's Board of Education to help ensure a safer, happier experience at every school?

If students are taught compassion and acceptance at an early age and teachers and school administrators recognize LGBT students to be a vulnerable population and DO something when they see bullying in progress, it's going to have a much more profound effect on a much larger scale.

And, there MUST be a district-wide zero tolerance policy for any student, teacher or administrator acting disrespectfully or abusively toward ANY student. Why is there even discussion about this? An LGBT student's differences are no less worthy of respect than one who wears a yarmulke, is confined to a wheelchair or comes from another country. Let's protect ALL classes, not just the ones we find most palatable.

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* This post was written exclusively for Integral Praxis. Kelly Kilpatrick writes on the subject of a accredited online trade school. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com

1 comment:

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