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New ‘Queer’ Middle School Opens In Phoenix

A new school is opening in Phoenix, Arizona that will cater to the needs of LGBT-identifying students (whatever that means) as young as 10 years old.

Queer Blended Learning Center, supported by the taxpayer-funded voucher program in Arizona, plans to open its doors this August and offer tuition at no cost for parents.

The micro-school is located at the headquarters of one∙n∙ten, an Arizona-based nonprofit dedicated to serving LGBT youth between 11 and 24 years old.

It will provide weekly discussion groups and social networking events meant to create a safe space for students of all backgrounds. Resources will also be available to promote healthy choices and living.

Nate Rhoton, the CEO of one•n•ten, stated: “Today, if I were in junior high, I would love to be able to live my full authentic self.” Already half a dozen students have enrolled in the micro-school which promises a 1:12 teacher student ratio when it opens this fall.

Darla Baquedano – director of education for Spark Community Schools – noted that upon opening students would start out with problem-solving and conflict resolution courses before transitioning into core subjects such as reading, writing, math and science taught through an online program tailored towards individual learning styles.

Core values such as respect; honor; kindness; safety; responsibility are also emphasized throughout the curriculum along with an LGBT+ history course created by New York City’s Department of Education which highlights historical figures from within the LGBT+ community.

Clayton Davenport who serves as one•n•ten’s director of development and marketing said: “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 – being able to raise their hands and ask their questions in a safe affirming environment is going to be key its mental health educational advancement.”

Queer Blended Learning Center seeks not only provide quality education but also ensure that individuals feel safe expressing themselves regardless if they identify as on or off the spectrum within the LGBT+ community.

“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,” Davenport added.

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Joe Messina

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