What are schools like around the world?
Harvey Milk High School is a public high school located on the third floor of a nineteenth-century high-rise at 2 Astor Place in New York City . It is designed for, though not limited to, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people, as well as those questioning their sexuality.
It was founded in 1985 as a Board of Education program for clients of the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth.
The school is named after pioneering gay activist Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States.
Then there is Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy in San Francisco set up in 1996 with the mission
to empower student learning by teaching awareness, acceptance and non-violence, celebrating our diversity, achieving academic excellence, and fostering strong family-school-community connections.
Harvey Milk was a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors who was killed by a political rival. Milk’s life and the ugly world of bigotry he fought is probably best known through the film Milk played by Sean Penn.
Milk’s birthday, May 22nd, is celebrated as Harvey Milk Day as he symbolises the very spirit of Pride and helped forge a new path for the marginalized.
All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.
Schools should be safe and supportive environments but not all of them are which is why we have to show the same passionate, impactful political resilience as Harvey Milk to make a difference. Inclusion means schools are for everyone but how inclusive are our schools?
It would be nice to think that we lived in a supportive, pluralistic, democratic, equitable and inclusive society in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans live happily with full equality in their homes, schools and workplaces.
Except we don’t, at least in some places. There is plenty of homophobia out there but “hope is never silent”.
What can our own schools learn from Harvey Milk? Do we need civil rights inspired Harvey Milk schools too?
Using The Harvey Milk Story in schools via the Milk Foundation to discuss nonviolent activism.