Britain’s first school for lesbian and gay students could be opened in Manchester under plans drawn up by a charity.
LGBT Youth North West is looking at a number of options to extend its provision for young people, and strategic director Amelia Lee said opening a new school was one of those under consideration.
The proposed school could take up to 40 full-time students. Although it would be designed for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teenagers, it would also be open to other pupils struggling in mainstream education.
“We could wait for mainstream schools to all be inclusive, but we’re not there yet. And, in the meantime, there are people leaving school having truanted because they’re too scared, or having been forced to leave because of bullying or having become emotionally unwell,” said Ms Lee.
“We want to do something that supports them and helps them achieve what they’re capable of.”
The charity has been given £63,000 of government funding to conduct a feasibility study on developing an LGBT centre in Manchester, which could become the location for the school.
If the consultation finds there is demand and the proposals go ahead, the school could be open in three to five years, according to Ms Lee.
Ruth Hunt, chief executive of gay-rights charity Stonewall, said separate schools for LGBT students were not the answer to tackling homophobia.
“We know that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) students still experience bullying and harassment. That needs to change," she said.
"While we’re sympathetic to the aims and objectives of LGBT-only schools, we don’t see them as the answer. Our experience working with more than 12,000 schools across the country shows that it is possible to create safe and inclusive environments where all pupils can be themselves.
"This makes the learning environment better for all students – regardless of their sexual orientation – and is key to eradicating homophobia in every single school in Britain.”
It would be the first of its kind in Britain, although a number of LGBT schools have opened in the US, including the Harvey Milk High School in New York, profiled in TES in 2010.
Sex education lessons failing to address needs of gay students – 17 July 2014
Teachers unprepared to tackle homophobic bullying, says Stonewall – 4 July 2014
Stars, stripes and the rainbow flag – 29 October 2010