You may remember a year or so back in Chicago, there was talk of opening a brick-and-mortar school that would specifically be designed for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning students. Those plans never came to fruition, but it looks like the concept has moved instead to the online arena. The GLBTQ Online High School is currently accepting applications for the 2010 school year.
The private, nonprofit online school, based near St. Paul, Minn., will serve students across the nation, as well as worldwide, on both a part-time and full-time basis. The school is committed to creating a safe, affirming place for GLBTQ students, and, as part of that mission, it will provide discussion forums for parents and family to share their experiences, challenges, and ideas about raising a GLBTQ child. The school will also build GLBTQ studies into its curriculum.
To me, this is a really interesting use of distance education. Instead of aiming to bring hard-to-staff classes to students who’d like to take them or accommodate irregular schedules, it seems that the main goal of this school is to bring together a very specific group of students and create a supportive community around them. I do think the online school begs some of the same questions that the brick-and-mortar school did (Doesn’t this school segregate kids? Shouldn’t tolerance be promoted in all educational environments?) but by moving into the private, online realm, school officials have now placed those decisions in the hands of parents and students, rather than those of the public school system.
I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this as we get closer to the school’s 2010 launch.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.