For gay students across the country, public high school often means ridicule from teachers, violent harassment from fellow students, and refusals from administrators to punish verbal and physical attacks upon them. These and other homophobic school practices undermine the ability of gay students to learn in school and frequently cause them to forfeit a high school education altogether. In New York City, the high drop-out rate among gay youth has prompted the founding of the first separate public school for gay students. This institution, the Harvey Milk School, symbolizes both the rejection of gay teenagers by mainstream schools and the commitment of these teenagers to obtaining education free from discrimination.

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