Last updated: October 9, 2003

South Bronx senator: Gay school is 'gross discrimination

Newsday, February 9, 2004

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ALBANY, N.Y. - State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., in a state budget hearing
Monday, accused New York City of racial discrimination, reviving the
controversy over the city's gay high school.

The Democrat from the south Bronx criticized the $3.2 million Harvey
Milk High School, which opened in September as a haven to gays, saying
minority students face violence in crumbling schools across town.

"What they are doing is gross discrimination, gross disrespect
toward our children, toward our community, and a misuse of funds," Diaz said
at the first state legislative hearing on education since the school opened.
"It's a good school, with the top technology in the world, good
teachers, air conditioning, nice school," Diaz said. "In my district,
there's no ventilation in the gym. ... Are they going to leave No Child
Left Behind, or just certain groups?"

"What Sen. Diaz fails to recognize is that school was not segregated
... It was not open only to youngsters who were gay or lesbian," said
Assembly Education Chairman Steven Sanders after the hearing.

"We have a lot of schools that address some specialized needs,"
Sanders said. "To pretend that students who are gay and lesbian have not
experienced particular hardships and particular cruelty in some areas of the
city is really to not understand the real experience ... There was nothing
wrong with what the chancellor did there."