One Equal World

Groundbreaking High School for LGBT Students

Posted on: January 8, 2016

PrideSchoolAtlanta

A private school opening in Atlanta, Georgia will be a first-of-its-kind school aimed at attracting LGBT youth who feel bullied or unsafe in traditional schools. This will be a dedicated safe space to learn and work during the next school year.

With nearly 25 years of teaching experience, 45-year-old transgender man Christian Zsilavetz started the K-12 school as an alternative for LGBT students to learn. However, Pride School Atlanta is open to any student that believes they’re not treated the same as others for “being different.” The school’s mission statement is “to provide LGBTQQIAA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and allied) students, families and educators a safe, fun and rigorous learning environment free of homophobia and transphobia.”

“Kids have full permission to be themselves – as well as educators. Where there’s no wondering, ‘Is this teacher going to be a person for me to be myself with?’ This is a place where they (students) can just open up and be the best person they can be,” Zsilavetz says.

According to The Advocate, anti-LGBT bullying has been a growing concern in recent years and it was reported that 64 congressional Democrats called on the Department of Education to take action on the issue last April.

In addition, the Associated Press indicated that almost nine out of 10 LGBT students reported experiencing harassment at school last year.

Programs director for global and U.S. South at GLAAD Ross Murray believes it is important to have regional opportunities like Pride School Atlanta so kids don’t have to travel or relocate outside of their communities to attend school.

“They should be able to stay in their homes, their communities. I think having a school like this in Atlanta … it means it’s much more regionally connected. If a student does need a place where they can be safe from bullying, from peers who want to harass or harm them, they’re not going to have to travel tons of distance to do that,” says Murray.

Pride School Atlanta will operate out of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta church and doors are expected to open by September 2016. Tuition will cost around $13,000 annually and financial assistance will be available for students who need it.

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