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Private school in Georgia to focus on being safe space for LGBT students

The school welcomes any student, straight or LGBT, who feels bullied or pressured against "being different."

Youth protest against homophobia and transphobia in Hong Kong in 2010.IStoleTheTV/Flickr

Bullying is a serious problem in America, and one Atlanta private school hopes to combat the epidemic by declaring itself a safe space for LGBTyouth and teachers.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported that the private "Pride School Atlanta is a K-12 institution designed to be an alternative for LGBT students." Though, founder ChrisitianZsilavetz insisted that the school was for anyone who felt bullied or pressured against "being different."

"Pride School will initially operate out of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta church and is expected to open by September 2016," the AJC explained. "Tuition will be around $13,000, though Zsilavetz says financial assistance is available for students who need it."

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Zsilavetz, a teacher and administrator with 25 years of experiencewho is also transgender,told the AJC that students would "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?""

Writing for ThinkProgress, Casey Quinlanaddedthat safe spaces are necessary for students – and teachers.

LGBT educators "say they feel pressured to keep their sexual orientation or gender secret in particularly conservative communities, which can sometimes prevent teachers from teaching lessons about how to treat LGBT students better or opposing unnecessarily heteronormative school activities," Quinlan explained.

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The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Eduation Network, or GLSEN, seeks to advocate for the rights and dignities of LGBTstudents. GLSEN also conducts surveys on the climate in American schools for LGBT kids.

In 2013, a GLSEN survey found that a full 74 percent of America's LGBTstudent population was "verbally harassed in the past year" because of sexual orientation. Likewise, 55 percent of LGBT students said they were bullied because of their gender expression.

"Progress is being made in our nation’s schools,"said GLSEN'sDr. Eliza Byard. "But when more than half of LGBT youth continue to report unsafe or even dangerous school climates, we all have a responsibility to act."

 

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