An Arizona middle school for LGBTQ students funded by state voucher money is set to launch in August, according to the Arizona Republic.
The Queer Blended Learning Center housed by one•n•ten, an activist group, is expected to open with half a dozen LGBTQ youth enrolled, according to the Arizona Republic. Those attending the school are able to pay for their tuition using taxpayer-funded vouchers provided through a state program. (RELATED: Arizona Governor’s Plan To Undo Nation’s Largest School Choice Program Will Harm Students, Advocates Say)
“We just had this population of sixth, seventh and eighth graders that could really benefit from a safe space to be able to really have exceptional education while also having education that pertains to their own identity,” Clayton Davenport, one•n•ten’s director of development and marketing, told the outlet. “Being able to raise their hands and ask their questions in a safe, affirming environment is going to be key to their mental health and educational advancement.”
In July 2022, former Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law establishing the largest school voucher program in the country. More than 1.1 million Arizona students in public and charter schools are now eligible to receive up to $7,000 in order to transfer schools, pay for private school tuition and other education-related costs.
At the Queer Blended Learning Center, students will be taught LGBTQ history every day using a curriculum created by the New York Department of Education, the Arizona Republic reported. Students will learn math, reading and science through an online home-school program.Rather than restrooms separated on the basis of biological sex, the Queer Blended Learning Center has single-stall bathrooms for students to use, the Arizona Republic reported.
“Arizona is the leader in school choice and this school is one example of parents taking advantage of the Empowerment Scholarship Account program to provide the education they believe is best for their children,” Nick Doug, Arizona Department of Education’s director of communications, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The school was founded in response to debates throughout the country between parents, lawmakers and school boards over how to address gender identity and sexual orientation topics. In May, Democratic Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill that would have prohibited educators from using pronouns that don’t correspond with a student’s biological sex. The Virginia Department of Education in July released a final version of its model policies that would require schools to separate sports teams on the basis of biological sex rather than gender identity.
One•n•ten did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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