An online school for LGBT students plans to launch in January 2010.
The school, based in the US, is the first of its kind and is a part of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.
David Glick, who founded the school, has worked as educational consultant for online schooling since 2003 and has been a teacher for over 25 years.
The school aims to “provide a safe and welcoming educational community that provides a high quality. . .online high school experience for students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning their sexual orientation or gender”.
“Diversity, multicultural education… has been a big interest of mine, and what the school system does or does not do for disenfranchised students,” Glick said.
According to the 2007 National School Climate Survey, undertaken in the US and released by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, researchers found that nearly nine out of ten LGBT students experienced harassment at school.
More than half of the students questioned said that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexuality and nearly 32 per cent admitted to skipping classes as a result of the harassment.
The students, on average, had a grade point average of almost half a grade lower than their classmates, which the report attributed to their harassment.
The concept for the LGBT online high school was originally launched in November and has since received dozens of applications from across the US.
The school aims to be open and accepting to applicants from different academic backgrounds. Glick said: “We also recognise that some students might have poor academic or behavioural histories. We see that as a natural part that have led to many things.”
He continued: “In one of the applications that we have, a girl said that, ‘I got sick of being teased as being butch, and I punched someone in the nose’.”
Glick hopes that the online school will provide a “safe” forum for “academic discussions about things that most schools would run away from”.
The school’s curriculum will include an LGBT studies class for students to learn about LGBT politics and history as well as containing more mainstream courses.
In 1985, a school for LGBT children was opened in New York.
The Harvey Milk High School, named after the civil rights campaigner, was created to allow students to transfer there if they were facing violence or harassment.
It became a fully-accredited high school in 2002 after the state board of education granted it a large amount of funding following the school’s excellent academic record.