I visited your school a few years ago as part of a research project. I was very impressed, and even more impressed to read the review in Time. (If you haven’t seen the article, here is the link)
I am just writing to caution you against putting too much weight on the negative comments in the article such as the one by Savin-Williams. Although he is employed by a university, he is clearly not basing his comments on any research – they are just his opinions, and not well-informed at that. I’m not sure why he would think that it is the duty of LGBT kids to help “straight kids learn”, or to help “bullies learn”. Frankly the idea is ludicrous.
The facts (from the research) are that bullying is tremendously harmful to youth, no matter the reason, and history demonstrates quite clearly that many schools are unable or unwilling to do anything about the bullying of LGBT kids. Your school provides them with a place where they can grow up without the daily fear of violence but rather in a climate of support and understanding, i.e., in a developmentally healthy manner.
If some of your kids want to spend time as adults helping others to “learn” about LGBT issues, then more power to them. They shouldn’t be required to shoulder that burden as vulnerable children or adolescents.
I fully support your work and hope that you can continue to prosper at Alliance.
Mark Van Ryzin
“Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, writes, ‘Being bullied is not just an unpleasant rite of passage through childhood. It’s a public health problem that merits attention.’ MPS is to be lauded for paying attention.”
~ Jill Moore, Milwaukee
“As a child I was diagnosed as being emotionally disturbed. This was because I often did not attend school. The reason I didn’t attend school was because of the constant tauntings and abuse. This came not only from peers but also from older students. On one occasion I became a “human ashtray” and one of the high school students put out a cigarette on my arm when I was riding my bike (I was 12 at the time). On other occasions these students spat on me and threatened me. I am 44 years old and still trying to work through some of these incidents in childhood and how it made me feel about myself. A school like Alliance is sorely needed so other kids don’t have to hurt the way I did.”
~ Mary E. Croy
“If I had a school like this I would probably have been a 4.0 student!”
~ Gary C.
“All students deserve a safe place to learn, and unfortunately our schools are yet to be that to all of our students. I know this from first-hand experience as a teacher at a public high school. In an ideal world, all schools (students and staff alike) would celebrate and embrace diversity, creating safe and positive environments for our children to learn and grow–and perhaps, The Alliance School will be the example for the rest of us to follow.”
Teacher, Milwaukee Public Schools
“I believe in The Alliance School because it will help today’s youth become stronger, self-sufficient human beings. I believe by placing like-minded individuals in a safe environment we are encouraging students to accept one another and in turn this will help boost their self-esteem. For Gay and Lesbian youth to be in an open and accepting environment where they can be true to themselves, this will be the ultimate opportunity for growth. “
The LGBT Community Center of Milwaukee
“Pathfinders has been helping the youth of Milwaukee find safety, hope and healing for 35 years. Although we would like schools be a safe environment, often young people experience bullying and harassment. One quarter of students experience it on school property, forcing 10 % of them to drop out. We gladly partner with The Alliance School to help all Milwaukee youth achieve academically and to feel safe as they learn.”
~Julie A. Bock, MSSW, LCSW
Program Director, Pathfinders Shelter for Runaways
“I suffered from abuse in high school because I was different. Later, I left high school completely. I fully support the idea of the Alliance School: learning and growth in a safe and diverse environment would have helped keep me in school.”
Executive Director, Bucketworks
“Alliance has the potential to make a world of difference for students who do not fit into the often rigid social structure of traditional schools. My research has confirmed that small schools, which have a clear focus on supportive mentorship from caring adults, can give young people who have failed to thrive in traditional school settings a chance to gain resilience and succeed in high school and beyond.”
~Kimberly J. Cosier, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor – Art Education
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
“I believe the Alliance School of Milwaukee is a building block to show Milwaukee supports all of it’s children. Growing up in a school district where I was a minority in more ways than I even knew at the time was a challenge. People that understand we are all individuals that are on this earth for a purpose are intelligent people. It is unfortunate that there is so much hate in this world. This school can protect young minds from hatred and allow them to grow in an encouraging and positive environment.”
Assistant Director of Student Activities, UWM