A Haven for LGBTQ Students in the Heart of Alabama
The new school was built in an affluent neighborhood. Many residents were upset about the opening of the school. Cars drove by slowly, with people shouting out of their windows. A woman filmed the campus with her cell phone. People left threatening voice mails.
The episodes were vague and mysterious. Some people thought about them, some didn’t. But the school was not disturbed by them.
Tyler, a 17-year old senior and a member of transgender community, said that he had been living in fear of violence and had performed social roles that never fitted him. He was forced to unlearn these things. Coming here, it was very different. The public charter school aimed to be a welcoming place to students who were gay, straight, non binary, cisgender or transgender, making it a lonely institution in the state that recently passed a bill that would make it illegal to provide what doctors call ‘gender affirming’ surgery or hormone therapy to minors.
The law would require schools to provide information about transgender people to students, but does not force them to use certain pronouns or change the names of bathrooms and locker rooms.
Michael Wilson, the principal of an academy, worries that the law could be misused by targeting students. He also says that discussions about gender identity should be between parents and children.
The school has sought to be an oasis of tolerance. Hallways are decorated with rainbow flags and gay-affirming slogans. The school has been targeted by a Republican gubernatorial candidate who says it should be renamed as a transgender school.
The school is open to everyone. Students come from different backgrounds. There are many ways to identify as LGBTQIA+ at this school. The school requires students to wear masks when entering class. This policy is still in effect today.