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A new private school in Georgia will open later this year to accommodate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Not only will the Pride School Atlanta educate LGBT youth who feel bullied or ostracized in traditional schools, but it also aims to attract LGBT teachers.
Christian Zsilavetz, a transgender man with 25 years of teaching experience, said he planned to open the private school to provide queer youth with a safe space to learn without the fear of harassment. He added he envisions the school as an alternative for LGBT students from grades kindergarten through 12 who need support for "being different," according to The Associated Press.
"Kids have full permission to be themselves - as well as educators. Where there's no wondering, 'Is this teacher going to be a person for me to be myself with?'" Zsilavetz said. "This is a place where they (students) can just open up and be the best person they can be."
Pride School will initially operate out of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta church and is expected to open in September. Zsilavetz added that students can seek financial assistance to help pay the $13,000 tuition cost.
Gay rights advocates say Pride School would be the first of its kind in the Southeast and would represent a significant step forward for the LGBT movement. Zsilavetz, who has been teaching math and other subjects since the early '90s, said he never felt truly open or supported by administrators while working in public schools. As a result, the 45-year-old educator wanted to change educational environments for LGBT students and teachers.