New York, New York – Liberty Counsel has settled the lawsuit it filed on behalf of State Senator Ruben Diaz and parents of public schools students against the New York City Department of Education (DOE) over a school billed as the first “gay high school” in the nation. Liberty Counsel filed suit soon after the City’s July 2003 announcement that Harvey Milk High School would become a publicly-funded school, and would continue to admit only “gay, lesbian, bisexual, or questioning” youth. The school was originally governed by the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) a private pro-homosexual organization. Liberty Counsel’s suit challenged the legality of funding a “gay-only” high school with tax dollars.
As part of the settlement, school administrators and HMI admit that they cannot discriminate in admissions, or otherwise, against heterosexual students. The City also agreed to train the staff responsible for placement of students in Harvey Milk consistent with the DOE’s nondiscrimination policy and to represent in DOE materials that the school is open to all students. Instead of admissions based on students’ sexuality, the school will be described as “small transfer school” for students in grade 9-12 who have not been successful in at least one other school and want to continue their education in an alternative, small school environment.
Erik Stanley, Chief Counsel for Liberty Counsel, stated: “We are pleased that the New York City Department of Education finally agrees that students should not be segregated according to ‘sexual orientation.’ Countless ‘at risk’ students could benefit from individual attention in a small school setting. We are concerned that the school be open to all students, so we are launching a ‘Keep Harvey Milk High Accountable Campaign.’ Taxpayers should monitor the school to be sure that the DOE abides by the settlement and admits all qualified students, regardless of ‘sexual orientation.’ We encourage students who are not ‘gay, lesbian, bisexual, or questioning’ their sexuality, to apply for admission. Once you do, please contact us so that we can track applications to ensure that the DOE is not discriminating against heterosexual students. In addition, if you attend or work at Harvey Milk High, we want to know what is being taught there. We need your help to ensure that Harvey Milk makes that opportunity open to all at risk students.”