School for LGBTQ Students to Open in Georgia

The Pride School Atlanta aims to be a safe haven for queer or gender nonconforming youth.

Photo by Flickr user jglsongs.

High school is already tough for many kids, but when you’re queer or gender nonconforming, the experience is especially difficult. Now, students in Georgia will find a safe haven at Pride School Atlanta, a K-12 private school that will service LGBTQ youth who don’t feel comfortable at traditional institutions. The school, which is expected to begin classes in September 2016, will initially be housed at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta church.

“Kids have full permission to be themselves—as well as educators. Where there’s no wondering, ‘Is this teacher going to be a person for me to be myself with?’” Pride School founder Christian Zsilavetz told NPR. “This is a place where they (students) can just open up and be the best person they can be.”

In a 2013 National School Climate Survey, 74.1 percent of queer youth said they experienced some form of verbal bullying or harassment based on their sexual orientation; 55.5 percent of the LGBT youth surveyed said they didn’t feel safe at school.

The Pride School Atlanta will be emulating the example of New York City’s Harvey Milk School, the first high school in the country for queer youth.