It had to happen. New York City’s new gay high school faces a discrimination lawsuit. The suit — filed by a conservative legal group on behalf of a Bronx mother and a state senator — charges the new school wastes tax dollars that could be spent to improve failing schools that serve low-income minority students.
The school theoretically is open to straight students, but Eugene Volokh, while dubious about the race angle in the lawsuit, thinks it’s legally suspect to recruit students on the basis of sexual orientation. I think he’s also framed the policy issue well:
One final note about the policy question — if it is legal to have a high school aimed at homosexual students, is it a good idea? I suspect that the backers of the high school (and of the smaller program that has apparently already existed for years) are correct that homosexual students get quite a bit of abuse, probably mostly verbal but often physical, from their classmates, and the school district has a duty to stop that. But my tentative sense is that having a separate program just for homosexual students isn’t the best solution, because it (1) undermines any “treat people the same regardless of their sexual orientation” message the school is trying to send, (2) makes it easier for other schools to inadequately protect the homosexual students who stay there (“Look, I know this kid is being abused, but the school district has apparently recognized that schools can’t really effectively protect homosexual students against such abuse, and that this is what the Harvey Milk program is for — he should just go there”), and (3) distracts schools from an even more fundamental need to protect all students, whether they’re being abused because they’re homosexual, fat, short, or unpopular for any other reason.
Twilight of the Idols is on the case too.