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PORTLAND, Ore. (BP)–“The Harvey Milk School, a collaborative effort between The Hetrick-Martin Institute and the New York City Department of Education’s Career Education Center Alternative High School Program, is the nation’s first accredited public high school designed to meet the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth,” according to the HMI website’s description of the Big Apple’s new high school.

Founded in 1979 and originally known as the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth, The Hetrick-Martin Institute was so named in 1988 in honor of its founders Dr. Emery Hetrick, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Damien Martin, a university professor. The men, described on HMI’s website as “life-partners,” both died of AIDS.

Harvey Milk High School has been in operation since 1984. From my understanding, it has been a small alternative program funded by HMI. In essence, HMHS has functioned like a private school and like other private institutions has achieved success, boasting a 95 percent graduation rate. According to the HMI website, Harvey Milk School “has been successful because of small student/teacher ratio and focused commitment that addresses the whole needs of a student.”

The aforementioned statement can be found on the website of almost any private school. So why all of a sudden is Harvey Milk High School garnering so much attention? It is the fact that the New York City Department of Education has committed $3.2 million dollars to the school for renovations and program expansion. This fall the school will enroll 100 students.

Can you imagine the reaction of the American Civil Liberties Union if any public school system sought a collaborative effort with a private religious school? Can you say lawsuit?

What the collaborative effort between the New York City Department of Education and HMI amounts to is government validation of a set of lifestyles that are patently unhealthy. Teenagers, who desire sex with those of the same gender, or with both genders, put themselves at risk for dozens of sexually transmitted diseases — some with no cure. Adolescents who want to destroy their bodies because of some psychological dysfunction are in need of help. To create an environment that encourages them is irresponsible, if not outright criminal. For the government to help underwrite it is reprehensible.

There are those who continue to assert that homosexual, bi-sexual and transgender individuals are born with their condition. However, to date there has not been a single definitive study proving that homosexuality is genetic. Studies supposedly showing a link have been discredited by peer-review. To place the lives of confused young people at risk when no evidence to support such a position exists is insane.

I suspect the real reason for Harvey Milk High School’s existence is found on the HMI website that describes Hetrick-Martin’s atmosphere as follows: “It doesn’t matter whether you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight, transgender female or male. It doesn’t matter if you are ‘Out, loud and proud’ or on the ‘DL.’ ‘In the Closet’ or ‘Living Large.’ You can be a goth or a geek; a baller or a candy raver, — or, WHATEVER.”

No moral standard is the rule at Harvey Milk High. There is no right or wrong, only teenagers doing what is right in their own eyes and with the encouragement of teachers.

And the initial price tag is only $3.2 million taxpayer dollars. And to think there are those who assert that the homeschool movement is dangerous and a threat to the good of society — go figure!
Boggs’ column appears each Friday in Baptist Press. He is pastor of Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore.

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  • Kelly Boggs