Hey Everyone! My name is Anshae Lorenzen. I am 17 years old. I attend Big Picture High School. I’m a senior and I’m a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet’s Strobel “Step-Up” program. I also work with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH) on different projects to promote Sexual Health Education and Access. I also do work for the Youth Pride Center (YPC) which is a center that deals with GLBTQ issues.
To give you all a little background of what’s going on.… well, there are gay youth that hang out on Belmont at all times of the night, and because of that the city officials have a negative view on all gay youth. The city officials think that all gay youth that travel up to the Belmont and Halsted area are either prostituting themselves or doing drugs, is a stereotype. There are gay youth who are in school, and who don’t do any drugs. In the Youth Pride Center, I am the head of Code Red. Code Red is a group of gay youth that go to events through out the city to represent YPC and breakdown the stereotypes set upon gay youth.
One idea that YPC came up with to show the city what is going on was a town hall meeting that we called “Our View.” The setup was like “The View.” Our panel was made up of all gay youth. We had hot topics to talk about, like the new high school that they are opening for the GLBTQ community. Interesting right? Yeah, we thought it was too. Some thought of it as segregation or a target for more violence. Well I think that the Pride school would be a great place for those who are harassed and discriminated because of their sexuality to have a safe space, but it does set up some problems. One point that was brought was that the pride school will make the youth that attend open to more harassment because they are segregated.
But unfortunately the designers of the Pride school had to pull the plug on the school because of changes that they were asked to make. They were asked to change the school’s name from “the High School for Social Justice Pride Campus” to “the Social Justice Solidarity High School.” Also they were taking all specific references to gay students out of the mission statement. Chad Weiden, who would have been the principal of the school, and Katherine Hogan, a teacher from the Social Justice High School are saying that they are not going to give up on the school and are going to submit an “even stronger” version of the plan next year so that the school can still be opened in 2010 as planned.