UNDER new plans being drawn up by a UK LGBT youth group, a school specialised in supporting LGBT children could open up within three years.
Based in Manchester’s city centre, the state school aims to take 40 full-time students and cater to the need for a safe space for students across the LGBT spectrum.
“Despite the laws that claim to protect gay people from homophobic bullying, the truth is that in schools especially, bullying is still incredibly common and causes young people to feel isolated and alienated, which often leads to truanting and, in the worse case scenario, suicide,” Lee said.
The school will also offer up to 20 part-time places for students who desire to continue their education at a mainstream school.
Tim Loughton, a conservative MP of British parliament, believes that the school may cause more issues to LGBT youth by segregating them from other students.
“I cannot see how segregating a group of young people identified by their sexuality can aid better engagement and understanding,” he told The Telegraph.
“The way to achieve more integration, understanding and empathy is not by segregating members of one group, and this would seem to me to be a step backwards from achieving tolerance.”
The news of the school coincides with the suicide of 14-year-old Elizabeth Lowe in a Manchester park last September as she reportedly feared telling her parents she was gay.
Lee said her LGBT youth group wanted to work with schools and pupil referral units “to help young people who are struggling in mainstream education”.
The new school would be an extension of Manchester’s Joyce Layland LGBT Centre, a site dedicated for queer organisations.
However, Ruth Hunt, the chief executive of UK gay rights lobby group Stonewall, told The Guardian that while she was “sympathetic” to the aims of the proposed school, she believes segregating LGBT youth was “not the answer”.
“Schools should be inclusive supportive places for all pupils regardless of their sexuality,” she said.
For the students that would attend the school, a year could cost up to £16,000, a similar price to surrounding state schools.
However, Lee said that about £1.3 million would be saved through early intervention and support for struggling LGBT youth.
A Manchester City Council spokesperson confirmed that the council has been in discussions with the charity on their ambitions in developing additional educational support to LGBT young people.
Lee believes that opening the school is crucial.
“Teachers in mainstream schools have problems in tackling issues like homophobic bullying and coming out,” she said.
“This is about saving lives.”