BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — A new charter school might be coming to Birmingham that would serve LGBTQ students from 9th to 12th grade.
It was announced for the first time publicly on Thursday by Birmingham Aids Outreach (BAO) organization.
The organization said this charter school has been in the making for 2 years and the development director said he feels confident they can make this into a reality.
For the past 5 years, a safe space for LGBTQ students has been available for them at Magic City Acceptance Center (MCAC), under the branch of BAO.
“Getting a space to be able to talk about what they’re gone through with peers, other young people that understand what it’s like to be a LGBTQ young person in Alabama is crucial,” said Lauren Jacobs with MCAC.
Birmingham Aids Outreach wanted to take this project a step further and took to Facebook to announce a new charter school that would serve LGBTQ students and anyone that wants a safe place to learn.
“We saw the need in the community from the number of kids dropping out, isolating themself within the high school, or just didn’t want to go to school. We see a lot of absentees and that sort of thing and we’re in the belief that every child deserves a good and fair education,” said Kyle Pugh, development director for BAO.
At Magic City Acceptance Center, leaders said they have served more than 800 students.
“I think people would be surprised to hear how many people need a space like this in Birmingham. I think people might react and ask why is that so important but when we see the number of students excited about this, it’ll explain everything,” said Jacobs.
Statistics from national organizations, like GLSEN, show that most LGBTQ students in Alabama experienced anti-LGBTQ victimization at school.
That’s a big part of why BAO is working on this charter school.
“I think this could be a big game changer for kids and families that had to experience negative things in schools,” said Pugh.
“I think just knowing Birmingham is a space that would even have such a thing, that hope will change the community because unfortunately, we do know there is a higher rate of suicide among LGBTQ youth and its nothing to do with who they are but its completely to do with unsafe environments,” said Jacobs.
Pugh said the next step for BAO is to get signatures and support of this academy.
Pugh said they will also have to go to the state and local school board to get their charter school accepted.
He said he’s hoping to open the school in 2021.