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This Charity Could Open Britain's First LGBT School In Manchester

LGBT Youth North West said that while there are currently no firm plans being drawn up, it would look into the feasibility of the school if local young LGBT people said they wanted it.

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A charity has said it is open to the idea of turning a community centre in Manchester into Britain’s first LGBT school.

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LGBT Youth North West is planning on using a £63,000 grant to conduct a feasibility study on development plans for the council-owned Joyce Layland LGBT Centre.

One of the plans being considered for the centre is the creation of a LGBT-inclusive school, a press release from the charity revealed.

The money to develop the centre, which the charity runs on behalf of 15 community groups, has come from funding by the Social Investment Business programme.

The Guardian reported that the proposed specialist school, which would cost £16,000 a year to attend, could open within three years and take on 40 full-time students from the Manchester area.

The newspaper said the centre might also offer 20 part-time places for those who wanted to stay in their current school.

However, the charity released a statement on Thursday to clarify some of the coverage in the media, saying there were currently no plans for a LGBT school being developed as the process was still very early in the consultation stage.

LGBT Youth North West added that if young LGBT people let the charity know they want an inclusive school, it will be looked into.

Amelia Lee, strategic director for LGBT Youth North West, told The Guardian:

This is about saving lives. Despite the laws that claim to protect gay people from homophobic bullying, the truth is that in schools especially, bullying is still incredibly common and causes young people to feel isolated and alienated, which often leads to truanting and, in the worst-case scenarios, to suicide.

We have an education system that sets up 5%-10% of pupils to fail through fear and structure, because it routinely fails to recognise and incorporate the needs of young people struggling with their identities. We can either hope every school is going to be inclusive, or we can recognise we are not there yet and so, for the moment, we need more specialised schools.

Lee said any proposed school would also be open to those suffering with mental health problems as well as young parents and carers.

Getty / Dibyangshu Sarkar

She added: “The school will have a gentle, supportive atmosphere. Its curriculum will be closely tailored to each child’s needs and incorporate academic work with youth-work techniques, such as building self-esteem and functional skills by working in the charity’s cafe or community garden.

“It is about trying to develop something that helps people that need extra support.”

A Manchester city council spokeswoman confirmed to The Guardian that there had been discussions with the charity about providing an education centre for LGBT children.

She said the council had helped with the bid for funding and was aware of plans to provide additional educational support to young LGBT people.

However, she added: "We've had an initial discussion with them about that but there are no current plans that we're aware of to open a LGBT school in the city."

LGBT Youth North West said on Thursday that any alternative education provision created at the centre would be open to all pupils, adding: "We would expect many pupils to not be LGBT."

Richard James is the News Director for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.

Contact Richard James at richard.james@buzzfeed.com.

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