New Phoenix middle school offers safe space for LGBTQ+ youth

The micro-school is starting off small but expects to grow in the next few years.
Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 10:28 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The first day of school for students enrolled in the new Queer Blended Learning Center (QBLC) is August 1st.

“Frankly, 6th, 7th and 8th grades were some of the hardest years for me. I changed schools every single school year,” said Nate Rhoton, the CEO of One-N-Ten. “Today, if I were in junior high, I would love to live my full, authentic self.”

One-N-Ten is an advocacy group for LGBTQ+ youth. Its youth center is located in Downtown Phoenix, which is where QBLC will have its classrooms for students in the 6th through 8th grades. Students do not have to identify as LGBTQ youth to enroll.

The curriculum is built by the Spark Community Schools, with LGBTQ subjects being highlighted. “Specifically, culturally responsive curriculum in Civics LGBTQ history, just making sure we’re telling stories from every perspective and point of view,” said Katrina Thurman, the President of Spark Community Schools.

She explained traditional subjects like science, math and reading will be covered. “At the end of the day, we end with project-based learning, which is something that has been proven to take what you learned in those core subjects and really make it relevant,” she said.

QBLC is a micro-school, meaning it could have a 1 to 12 teacher-student ratio. However, Thurman said there are currently eight students enrolled. There is only one teacher, but there are plans to add a second teacher and one classroom aide. Thurman also mentioned parents can tap into the state’s universal voucher program to cover tuition.

“Our tuition is what that voucher amount is. It is available to any parent. It is not above that. There should be no out-of-pocket costs to the family,” she said.

The school calendar will be August 1 and go to May 23, 2024, with traditional breaks in between. Students can enroll at any time of the school year. To learn how, click here.

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