Originally published on Advocate.com February 11 2004 12:00 AM ET
State senator 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 Senator 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. 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."