The most tolerant school in the USA
Categories: North AmericaBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/article/the-most-tolerant-school-in-the-usa.html
Separate World: A report by a gay photographer about an unusual school where there is no room for homophobia. Text: Kayla Webley, Time.
Photographer Ryan Pfluger became aware and openly identified as gay at a very young age - he was only 14. That is why he reacted with excitement and even awe to the opportunity to talk about the only gay-friendly school in the United States, the Alliance in the city of Milwaukee and its students. This school is a charter school (i.e. free municipal) and enrolls students from the sixth to the twelfth grade. While working on his report, Pfluger constantly thought about whether he would have preferred as a teenager to attend a school where about half of the students identify themselves as lesbian, homo-, bi- and transsexuals. Almost all of them were subjected to bullying and harassment in ordinary schools. Pfluger, who grew up “the only gay child in New York’s Italian neighborhood in an atmosphere of machismo and homophobia,” admits: “It would have been great for me to be in such a school when I was 12-13 years old - at that time I felt very uncomfortable . I felt threatened from all sides. There were no people around me who could understand me. On the other hand, now, looking back through the eyes of an adult, I understand that the difficulties that I went through while studying in high school tempered me and made me what I am today. ”
(Total 9 photos)
Pfluger raises a crucial question when it comes to Alliance and its likes: is it better to let gay students cocoon themselves in a cocoon of tolerance, or to let them suffer as the fight against homophobia and bullying unfolds in mainstream schools? “I'm afraid this school is just a band-aid for their wounds. Real life can hit them hard when they get out of here,” says Pfluger. – For me it was the most difficult. Your relationship with the outside world will not change just because you study in a special school - they will only get better if you yourself make an effort to do so.
However, for some victims of bullying, this school has become nothing more than a lifeline. Pflueger says he felt the benefits of a school like the Alliance especially when filming eleventh grader Robbie Moore holding the hand of Jayde LaPorte, a transgender ninth grader. “There was a special connection between the two,” he explains. “You can immediately see how good and safe they are with each other.”
Such support - and openness - is the main goal of the Alliance. Instead of suffering, Jayda and Robbie can walk with their heads held high, whether they're wearing high heels or not. Tina Owen, Alliance founder and lead educator, says, "I have no doubt these kids could survive elsewhere, but here they can thrive."
1. Eleventh grader Robbie Moore and Jayda Laporte, a transgender ninth grader, are students at Alliance School in Milwaukee. Photo: Ryan Pfluger
2. Amber Herold is a high school student this year. Photo: Ryan Pfluger
3. Eleventh grader Robbie Moore, a student at the Alliance School, where about half of the students identify themselves as lesbians, homo-, bi- and transsexuals. Almost all of them were subjected to bullying and harassment in ordinary schools. Photo: Ryan Pfluger
4. Kendra Jones - last year's graduate. Photo: Ryan Pfluger
5. Alliance students managed to create an atmosphere in which everyone's sexual orientation is not a secret and, at the same time, is almost never discussed. When meeting after the usual “What is your name?” where are you from?" often heard the question “Are you gay or straight?” Many answer: “I don’t know yet,” and this is also normal. Photo: Ryan Pfluger
6. When Ceyda was a little boy, she tried to run around the house in heels and wore a bra full of balloons. Ceyda remembers that when she was 6, she sometimes felt such a sense of embarrassment and resentment that she even thought about suicide. Photo: Ryan Pfluger
7. 7th grader Dylan Huegerich, 14, attended the Alliance all last year because he was bullied a lot in a regular school, but this year he decided to attend an online correspondence academy because on the way to school it took him an hour and a half. Photo: Ryan Pfluger
8. Jeremy Owen is a twelfth grade student and son of Alliance founder Tina Owen, who came up with the idea for the school. Prior to that, she taught English at Milwaukee High School, but was fired from there. Photo: Ryan Pfluger
9. Tenth grader Alex Pawlak, a student at the Alliance School, where everyone is guaranteed safety. Photo: Ryan Pfluger