English School For LGBT Students Provokes Opposition, But It Could Be A Good Idea
Manchester, England may be opening a school for LGBT youth that would serve as a safe educational space for queer students. The group LGBT Youth North West has proposed to open a school with 40 spots reserved for queer students in an attempt to create an environment where LGBT youths can find support systems and not face the isolation caused by non-LGBT friendly environments at other schools. While the purpose of this is to decrease bullying and suicide rates in the LGBT community, some are concerned that this would actually create segregation. Tim Loughton, a member of Britain's parliament, says it is a step in the wrong direction. He told The Telegraph:
"I cannot see how segregating a group of young people identified by their sexuality can aid better engagement and understanding.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."
Of course, Mr. Loughton, straight, white, male extraordinaire wouldn't understand that a queer friendly space has a lot more to do with people identifying a certain way because of their sexuality, but with every single experience that comes with that identity and the cultures that emerge from that identity's nuances that aren't experienced by anyone else. It's also important to note that the group isn't suggesting a segregation or even an entire LGBT school, but is suggesting the creation of a space for a certain community to find comfort and safety WITHIN what Loughton would call an "integrated" space. If approved, this could be a really important initiative in paving the way for different iterations of safe spaces for LGBT students, and set examples all over the world on the importance of creating these spaces, whether it's with reserved spots for LGBT youth or something different.