High school is already tough for more kids, but when you’re queer, or gender non-conforming, the experience is especially difficult. Now, students in Georgia will find a safe haven at Pride School Atlanta, a K-12 private school that will service LGBTQ youth who don’t feel comfortable at traditional institutions. The school, which is expected to begin classes in September 2016, will initially be housed at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta church.
“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?'” said Pride School founder Christian Zsilavetz to NPR. “This is a place where they (students) can just open up and be the best person they can be.”
In a 2013 National School Climate Survey, 74.1 percent of queer youth said they experienced some form of verbal bullying or harassment based on their sexual orientation; 55.5 percent of the LGBT youth surveyed said they didn’t feel safe at school.
The Pride School Atlanta will be emulating the example of New York City’s Harvey Milk School, the first ever high school in the country for queer youth.