Charter Schools Supporting LGBTQ Students and Communities

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It is essential that educators, school leaders, parents, and students alike create an environment of acceptance and understanding for students who identify as LGBTQ. According to a recent Gallup poll, 1 in 6 adult Gen Zers do not identify as heterosexual—more than any other age group. What’s more, 86% of LGBTQ students have reported being harassed or assaulted in school, and 84% of trans students do not feel safe in school because of their gender. This harassment leads to more missed school, lower GPAs, lower self-esteem, and even higher drop-out and suicide rates.

Many families turn to school choice as a way to remove students from a toxic school environment, and some schools are going the extra mile to make their schools a safer, more inclusive environment for their LGBTQ students. While most schools still have a long way to go, we’ve identified some charter schools that have great resources and support for their LGBTQ students. Check out these fantastic programs!

Magic City Acceptance Academy, Homewood, Alabama 

Magic City Acceptance Academy is an LGBTQ-inclusive charter school opening in the Fall of 2021 in Homewood, Alabama. The school intends to serve as a safe space for LGBTQ students, and students outside the community are welcome to attend. The school will have 250-300 6th-12th graders in its first year. The school will offer mental health counseling and create a trauma-informed environment to help students through challenges they may face. 

Los Angeles LGBT Center and Five Keys Charter School, Los Angeles, California 

Five Keys Charter School in Los Angeles and San Francisco traditionally serves adults who do not have a high school education. They offer full high school diplomas, GED, HiSet, and a College Pathways program that supports the transition from nontraditional high school to college. Five Keys Charter School teamed up with the Los Angeles LGBT Center to create a school-based on their traditional schooling model but caters explicitly to LGBTQ youth. The students in this program are offered support beyond the classroom through the center with programs that offer access to housing, food, counseling, and mentorship. 

Albert Einstein Academy of Ohio, Lakewood, Ohio 

Albert Einstein Academy is a charter network that expands across Ohio, and their campus in Lakewood is an LGBTQ-affirming campus. The campus’s culture revolves around queerness, and students outside the community are welcome to attend. Healthcare, group counseling, and other services are provided for students. In addition to serving LGBTQ kids, the school teaches children outside the community about acceptance and allyship. The goal of the school is to provide LGBTQ students in the area with resources, educational opportunities, and a safe place to be themselves. 

The James Baldwin School, New York City, New York 

The James Baldwin School is a New York City Outward Bound Charter Schools campus. This school is a transfer school, serving kids and adults who dropped out of traditional school. The James Baldwin School offers high school education to underserved, underrepresented students and focuses on community building in their curriculum. The school regularly partners with LGBTQ centers in New York City, playing a vital role in supporting the growth of LGBTQ centers and addressing the challenges they face by helping them to improve their organizational and service delivery capacity and increase access to public resources. 

Uplift Education’s Safe Space, Dallas, Texas 

Uplift Education is a charter school network in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex in Texas that serves over 21,000 students across 21 campuses. The schools have a club called Safe Space, where students are encouraged to express themselves and be who they authentically are without judgment. The club does not tolerate bullying or harassment and accepts all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender expression, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, age, religion, and ability. In addition to their club, Uplift Education schools participate in the Out for Safe Schools program. This program gives staff members badges that publicly identify them as LGBTQ allies.

onenten’s Queer Blended Learning Center, Phoenix, Arizona 

Students at the Queer Blended Learning Center (QBLC) attend school using the K12 online learning program. The students enroll in an online school, and QBLC provides a classroom, free lunch, after-school programs, guidance counselors, and more through the LGBTQ youth center, one•n•ten. Students in this program have mostly left traditional public schools because they have been bullied, harassed, and sometimes assaulted. Students can be in the classroom without the external stress of being discriminated against for their queerness. In addition to providing an affirming space, the One n Ten youth center supplies QBLC students with multiple resources that will improve their mental and physical health and prepare them for adult life. 

It is important that schools understand and support queerness. LGBTQ students are more likely to feel safe and thrive if an accepting, understanding culture is created from the start. Here are some resources on how to make your school more LGBTQ friendly this Pride month and every month after.