An LGBT-Friendly Charter School in the Heart of Alabama Shows the Power and Flexibility of School Choice

Homewood in Alabama is a suburb of Birmingham that offers excellent examples of charter schools reaching students struggling to succeed in traditional public schools.

Magic City Acceptance Academy is a charter public school which opened last August. It had been struggling to gain official permission for one year. According to the school’s mission statement, it is to create a “community in which all students are empowered to embrace education and achieve personal success in an LGBTQ-affirming learning environment”.

Alabama has launched a charter school that is LGBT friendly. It serves sixth-12th-graders. It has currently 232 students from the Greater Birmingham region. Michael Wilson, founder and principal of the school, tells that registration will open soon. ReasonHe hopes to have between 325-350 students.

It’s important to mention the Magic City Acceptance Academy as part of National School Choice Week. There are many criticisms of charter school systems that accuse charter schools of discrimination and serving wealthy or privileged neighborhoods. Many charter schools are open to students with disabilities and minorities. Six charter schools have been identified by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools as concentrating on LGBT students. Charter schools could be a way to extricate students from the traditional, oppressive public school system.

It is not necessary that students be LGBT to participate in the school’s activities. Wilson explained that the school’s goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment for children who are being bullied at traditional schools or don’t get the support or help they need.

Wilson states that schools can be a place where some very horrific acts are committed. It could be because the student is on the LGBTQ spectrum. However, it might also be because they are autistic or have a skin colour or were born in a country with immigrants. They don’t feel at home where they are.

The school provides a standard education that conforms to state requirements. It also offers mental health counseling and wellness programs. Parents can connect with the school to get the necessary health services.

It is clear that schools are now a battleground in politics over what teachers can say to students regarding race. In Oklahoma, for example, new laws are being introduced to limit how schools teach students about sexual orientation. A number of bills in Alabama have been introduced to prohibit certain types and kinds of sex discussion that may be associated with critical-race theory. Alabama legislators want schools to be forbidden from teaching that the United States or this state is fundamentally racist and sexist.

Magic City Acceptance Academy has made social justice a part of its curriculum. The parents who enroll their child in Magic City Acceptance Academy know that the progressive concepts of justice, equity and equality will form part of their child’s education. Since charter schools are entirely voluntary, it is reasonable to assume they will or should be able to support programs. These political battles could end up hitting charter school schools regardless, since charter schools are public schools.

Texas governor. Greg Abbott announced his support for National School Choice Week. This week Essence Preparatory (a San Antonio charter school) was required to amend components of its antiracist education model to conform with the law Abbott signed last January. The law prohibits schools teaching that slavery and racism “are anything but deviations or betrayals from, failures, or failures, to live up the true founding principles of the United States.” The Oklahoma law would prohibit school libraries from including books on LGBT subjects. It also explicitly targets public charter schools.

Wilson does not like the idea of politicians trying to undermine school choice and force their agendas onto charter schools.

He says, “Critical Race Theory has Nothing to Do with Hate.” You can ignore it. [racism]As most history books, we are able to teach truth. The truth is what we are committed to teaching. It’s not their fault. They become more mature adults through the process of learning.

Charter movement leaders are monitoring the unfolding of this struggle and trying to determine how they can teach.

Nina Rees is the president and CEO at National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. ReasonAn emailed statement. We are closely monitoring this development. It is [the Essence Preparatory]Texas law could override autonomy granted to charter schools in this case.

Rees states, “With all that being said, we strongly believe in protecting charter school from new regulations and rules that limit their freedom of innovation (especially in matters related curricula or pedagogy).” If scaled up, these efforts will severely harm school choice, which rests on the trust of families to pick the best school for them.

If parents and students feel that they are happy with the schools, school choice should allow for them to exist. It is not right to ban the teaching of some subjects in schools there. This would be contrary to conservatives or Republicans who claim they support school choice and then support the censorship for controversial ideas.