Experts question legality of high school for gays

By Gus Bode

NEW YORK – When news surfaced that Harvey Milk High School, a fully accredited public school for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students, would expand its programs to become a fully-fledged high school next month, many education experts were surprised to learn that classrooms could be legally segregated based on sexual orientation.

“I thought it was a joke when I first read it,” Krista Kafer, senior education analyst at The Heritage Foundation said of the New York City high school. “It seems like an unfortunate and controversial use of taxpayer money. I would have no issue with it if it were a private school.”

In fact, one concerned group led by state Sen. Ruben Diaz filed a lawsuit Wednesday in the state Supreme Court alleging that the school violates state anti-discrimination policies in schools.


But they weren’t the only ones taken aback by the announcement that public funds would be used to run the Harvey Milk project.

Educational reform advocate and columnist Joanne Jacobs said she was sympathetic to the needs of gay students, but wary of educational policy that would remove them from public classrooms – a policy reminiscent of racial segregation a half-century ago.

New York Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said he was outraged by the project, which has been running since 1984, and argued that the program is illegal and an example of special-interest politicking in education.

But according to some legal experts, separating students based on sexual orientation is legal.

“Legal or not legal, it is a clear misuse of taxpayers’ money,” Long said. “You are creating a segregated environment in our school system.”