NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

School Choice for Gays

August 21, 2003

New York is spending $3.2 million tax dollars to expand a program for gay students. In response, a Hispanic state senator has filed a lawsuit. The real scandal, says the Wall Street Journal, is that a city public school system is willing to deliver choice to a politically influential group while subjecting hundreds of thousands of others to education triage.

The co-plaintiffs in the suit are the Reverend Ruben Diaz, a state senator, and "Jane Doe" -- a mother of four whose children attend public schools in Diaz's district in the South Bronx.

  • Diaz emphasizes that his suit has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with opportunity.
  • How, the suit asks, can the city justify spending millions on a gay school with a total enrollment projected at only 170 while leaving many of the one million other New York schoolchildren in the lurch?
  • The Harvey Milk School for gays claims a graduation rate of 95 percent, with more than 60 percent of its students going off to college.
  • In sharp contrast, a good chunk of New York City's other high school students -- say, the black and Latino students who make up Diaz's district -- will never see a high school diploma.
  • At the middle school attended by Jane Doe's eldest child, only 13 percent of eighth-graders test at level for English and only 8.5 percent for math.

In its mission statement, the Harvey Milk School says its purpose is to provide "an opportunity to obtain a secondary education in a safe and supportive environment." Surely all New York kids deserve the same. Yet, only in America's big-city public schools do you get better treatment if you're gay than if you're poor, says the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "Choice, If You're Gay," Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2003.

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