A specialized school for LBGT students in Manchester: segregation or protection?

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The contemporary British educational system, notorious for its conservatism and traditional approaches, now is witnessing drastic reconsideration of the LGBT students’ schooling. LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The article recently published in the Guardian  informs that in three years time Manchester will be hosting a school for 40 lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (Hill, 2015). Amelia Lee, the Strategic director for LGBT Youth North West, states that “the school will have a gentle, supportive atmosphere. Its curriculum will be closely tailored to each child’s needs and incorporate academic work with youth-work techniques, such as building self-esteem and functional skills by working in the charity’s cafe or community garden.” (Hill, 2015). Then she postulates that the overarching rationale behind is protecting LGBT students from bullying, discrimination and providing equal access to education (Hill, 2015). “This is about saving lives”, dramatically claims the director (Hill, 2015).  As we can elicit from the article, the tragic case, when a 14-year-old female student in Manchester committed suicide due to the fear of being blamed by parents for non-traditional sexual orientation, made community to think of changing attitudes toward LBGT students.

Now this topic is a field of tensed debates whether the society needs this school or no. Another article in the Daily Telegraph under the title “Bullied gay children don’t need a ghetto” is more skeptical. Clements (January, 2015) asserts that the creation of schools for gay children will not prevent these children from homophobic bullying and violence. He employs an eloquent metaphor of “ghetto” (“an area of a city, especially a very poor area, where people of a particular race or religion live closely together and apart from other people; a part of society or group that is in some way divided from the main part”, Oxford Online Dictionary). So, this school in his understanding will place gay children in segregation from the mainstream schools and ordinary pupils.

Analyzing the responses of the readers to these two articles, we can distinguish several contrasting views. Some individuals believe that the LGBT students have better to be enrolled in the mainstream schools to consolidate with ordinary students. Thereby tolerance, sense of understanding, mutual respect, and acceptance of diversity will be fostered among schoolboys and schoolgirls. In this case, the academy for gay children will switch from the temple of knowledge to the place of segregation. Conversely, some readers suppose that lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgenders should not be given a privileged position and they should handle with homophobia solely. As gay children will grow older, the pressure also will augment: reprobation at workplace, at university etc.., assume the opponents. The climax of their commentaries is a proposition that compartmentalization will put the lives of the gay children at perils. The extremists, zealous homophobes and other fanatics will easily find a school and try to eradicate them, according to the commentaries left. However, these controversial discourses coincide in one point: bullying is a salient feature amongst youngsters and it yells for serious preventive measures to be taken.

Increasing diversity includes not only customary language, cultural or racial differences, but also homogeneous vs heterogeneous sexual identities. To some extent it can be horrifying, shameful or disgusting to acknowledge that innocent childhood/adolescence can be adversely affected by despair of balancing between sexual orientation and gender identity. My traditional upbringing does not allow me to treat this phenomenon neutrally; however, I strongly believe that every human being has rights to be a part of society even being not “like us”. How can we speak of equity if such children fear of attending schools? Homosexual relationships should not be encouraged or promoted but TOLERANCE should be. Who knows why some feel same-gender attraction while others engage in opposite-gender relationships? Suppose that there is no clear answer yet. If the LGBT students feel comfortable and get necessary educational and psychological assistance at specialized schools, come that may. Thus, a noble motto “education for all” will turn into “all for education” in case of the LGBT students. And it will make a difference.

References

Cambridge Online Dictionary. (n.d). English definition of “ghetto”. Retrieved from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/ghetto

Clements, P. (2015, January 16). Bullied gay children don’t need a ghetto. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/11350099/Bullied-gay-children-dont-need-a-ghetto.html

Hill, A. (2015, January 16). School for LGBT pupils planned for Manchester. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jan/16/school-for-lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-pupils-manchester

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2 thoughts on “A specialized school for LBGT students in Manchester: segregation or protection?

  1. Apart from being neglected, LGBT community has endured hardships of disapproval, rejection and discrimination for a long time. However, globally, social attitudes towards the same-sex relationships have shifted and became more accepting, particularly among younger population. The idea of establishing LGBT school in conservative England (which despite its traditional approach to education has a large population of gays and lesbians) by yet more prove reflects the current reorientation in social beliefs.
    That would be unwise to consider this change is universal and does not resist the time and geographical peculiarities. Whereas in the West this topic is highly sensitive yet discussable, in our region this is almost a taboo.
    I strongly support the opinion that people are free to choose which God to worship, which political party to join, what to eat, what to dress, who to date and who to study with. Consequently, LGBT students must be able to select their college whether it is going to be mainstream or specialized. By providing them with an option, the society will make a step towards a huge change in the current beliefs.
    This article made me feel more informed. Thank you for raising this important issue.

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    1. shynarchiq, thank you for responding to such a sensitive issue. I do believe that it is a high time to acknowledge that the LGBT students deserve equal rights to education. Regardless their sexual identity or preferences. I cannot help, but despise when the educators eschew from discussing this theme. Is it right or wrong we cannot judge, but we can ameliorate the tough discrimination of the LGBT students. The Western and the Eastern mentalities have an extemely contrasting position toward this phenomenon, as you have mentioned. It almost equal to the death penality to identify oneself as a gay or a lesbian. I do not favour it but I try just to accept those persons. If the others act neautrally, we will anticipate the conflicts between the zealous conservative individuals and the LGBT.
      Thank you once again for not being indifferent.

      Like

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