Through Arizona's education vouchers, middle schoolers will be able to enroll at the Queer Blended Learning Center in August located in downtown Phoenix at an LGBTQ+ youth nonprofit called one∙n∙ten, according to AZ Central.
The school's founder, Nate Rhoton, said that the alternative education was created in response to "anti-LGBTQ" legislation passed through the state legislature earlier this year, claiming that the school will save the lives of LGBTQ+ children.
"We're seeing nationally that LGBTQ youth are, frankly, under attack legislatively," Rhoton told the outlet. "It's deadly to the youth that we serve."
Rhoton said that due to "this state of cultural war with the LGBTQ community at the epicenter" the Queer Blended Learning Center "is absolutely necessary and, in fact, lifesaving for the young people that we will reach."
"We just had this population of sixth, seventh and eighth graders that could really benefit from a safe space to be able to really have exceptional education while also having education that pertains to their own identity," Rhoton explained.
The Queer Blended Learning Center will offer its students daily LGBTQ history lessons with a curriculum highlighting "different significant historical figures in the LGBTQ+ community," said Darla Baquedano, the director of education for Spark Community Schools. Students will also be offered basic math, science, and English through online courses, according to the outlet.
Clayton Davenport, one∙n∙ten's director of development and marketing, is ecstatic about the alternative schooling option as said that it will prevent LGBTQ youth who "tend to be shy" from "becoming targets."
"Being able to raise their hands and ask their questions in a safe, affirming environment is going to be key to their mental health and educational advancement," Davenport said.
According to the organization's website, "one∙n∙ten is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving and assisting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth ages 14 to 24. From weekly discussion groups to fun, social networking events, we create a safe space, mentally and physically, for youth of all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. We also offer resources to promote healthy choices and living."
One∙n∙ten offers the youth multiple programs, which include health & wellness, identity-specific programs, housing and workforce navigation, and camp outdoors.
While participating in the health and wellness program called "Sex FYI," youth ages 14 to 17 will learn how to navigate relationships as a trans or non-binary person, STI 101 and safer sex 101, sexting/social media/internet safety, and intimacy without sex and sex readiness.
On the third Wednesday of every month, the nonprofit offers a trans and gender non-conforming wellness program that touches on gender-affirming health topics such as: pronouns support, hormones 101, gender-affirming surgeries 101, gender dysphoria tips and tools, and how to bind safely and tuck safely, according to the website.
Sponsors listed on the nonprofit's website include American Airlines, Wells Fargo, Toshiba, Discover, PetSmart, COX, Bank of America, ADP, Mercy Care, and more.
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