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New high school opens for LGBTQ students

by Carina Sonn

azfamily.com

Posted on April 12, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 12 at 8:39 PM

Map: Third Street and Osborn Road

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PHOENIX, Ariz. -- A high school for LGBTQ students is open in the Valley, giving teens who have been bullied, dropped out of school or are dealing with homelessness another chance.

Q High is the first of its kind in the state and one of only a handful in the nation.

Right now 14 students attend the school that's operated by an organization called one-n-ten.

Q High, located near Third Street and Osborn Road, works in partnership with Arizona Virtual Academy to provide online instruction for students.

"Youth deserve a space that says 'I will let you learn and get your education regardless', and we do that," says Micheal Weakley, one-n-ten's deputy director.

The number of students who struggle to focus on their education because of what they go through in traditional school settings or at home is staggering.

"About one-third of our youth have dropped out of high schools, so we have dropouts and we have about half of our youth are homeless or have been homeless," explained Cado Stewart, program director for One-n-ten.

Fortunately Tyler, who didn't want to give a last name, has a mother who has always been supportive.

But that didn't prevent Tyler from being bullied.

"Kids would just continually bully and harass me," said Tyler. "Kids have threatened to beat me up and harm me just based on the fact that I was an LGBT student. I ended up having straight Fs and school pretty much went down the toilet at that point."

Tyler had been to four different high schools, Q High is the fifth -- and last.

"I think it's quite amazing that this kind of school is open for kids. I wish it would have been here a long time ago," Tyler said.

The school doesn't receive any state money to operate. Instead, support from private donors, grants and fundraisers.

As far as straight youths, they're welcome, too. Three attend the school alongside the LGBTQ students.

"We don't even ask sexual orientation. It's not necessary question. 'Are you a you in need? Do you need an education? Do you not feel comfortable in high school?' If you qualify, you're in," Weakley said.

The school has the capacity for a total of 25 students.

Weakley hopes that one day the school can shut down.

"My ultimate goal is that bullying and dislike for gay and lesbian youth stops and there's no need for this school," he said. "The reason we have this school is because there's a need."

one n ten is a not-for-profit agency dedicated to serving and assisting LGBTQ youth and young adults ages 14-24. The organization serves 800 unique youth per year at its facilities.

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