LGBTQ-Themed Charter School Seeks to Open in Alabama

A woman and her two children attend the LGBT Pilgrimage of Mercy in Central Park New York on October 2, 2016.
KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

The Magic City Acceptance Academy, an LGBTQ-themed charter school, is seeking approval to open in Birmingham, Alabama.

The project, whose creators hope to open the school next year, sought approval of the Birmingham school board last week at a hearing at the Lincoln Professional Development center.

“Magic City” is a nickname for Birmingham, a title that refers to the city’s rapid growth due to its explosion of industry after the Civil War.

“We want to meet kids where they are when they come to us and we want to lead them through the process of learning and what that looks like and what it’s about especially when you don’t have to worry about bullying and harassment and nonsupport from some of the adults that surround you,” Dr. Michel Wilson, principal of Magic City Acceptance Academy said, reported WBRC.

The proposed academy, which was created by Birmingham AIDS Outreach (BAO), would be a 6th-12th grade school that primarily instructs LGBTQ students but would still be open to others as well, states the news report. The school would serve about 250 students.

In its August announcement of Wilson’s hiring as principal of the school, BAO touted its LGBTQ-themed charter school would provide “an affirming environment for LGBTQ students and their allies.”

BAO said about its project:

We are also collaborating with New Schools for Alabama to develop a strong application and to secure the resources and support we need for a successful launch. As the state’s charter school association, New Schools for Alabama supports the growth of excellent charter schools in Alabama to ensure that every child has access to a quality public education.

“We’re thrilled to support BAO and the Magic Center Acceptance Center in their application for a charter school,” said Tyler Barnett, executive director of New Schools for Alabama, according to BAO’s press announcement. He added:

All kids deserve a school environment that is welcoming and affirming, and far too often that is just not the experience kids in the LGBTQ community have in a traditional school. This application has all of the elements to not only deliver a nurturing school environment but also an excellent academic experience.

“The BAO Board of Directors are in complete support of the Magic City Acceptance Academy,” said Karen Musgrove, BAO executive director, in the press statement. “We know that LGBTQ students are not thriving in schools in Alabama and we want to change that conversation. The Magic City Acceptance Academy will be a wonderful addition to our LGBTQ programs.”

The proposed charter school reportedly received mixed reviews at the Birmingham school board hearing.

“Kids from across the state can come to the school,” said one resident who supports the charter school, according to WBRC. “It can be a beacon of light and I think that this world we’re living in now, we need some light.”

However, another Birmingham resident who opposes charter schools in general said, “Birmingham City Schools – do they need work? Yes, they do. But the solution is not always to push aside to allow other schools to come in. We need to work on what we do have.”

Christian and parental rights activist Elizabeth Johnston, aka the Activist Mommy, said she prays the LGBTQ-centered school is not approved by the Birmingham school board:

The school’s main purpose will essentially be to shield young people who identify as LGBT from any viewpoints that may be “hurtful” to their feelings. The school will only affirm that their chosen lifestyles and identities are good and right because it’s “their truth” rather than teaching actual truth. This is a complete injustice to these children who will graduate unable to cope with the realities of the real world in which many, possibly the majority of, people do not openly embrace LGBT lifestyles as the “new” norm.

The school board may vote on Magic City Acceptance Academy’s application by the end of the month.

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