Magic City Acceptance Academy (MCAA) is Alabama’s first LGBTQ-centered charter school. After receiving three different rejections from the Alabama Public Charter School Commission, the school plans to open its doors in Birmingham to students beginning Fall 2021. MCAA was born out of the need to provide kids who face bullying, violence, and a greater risk of suicide with a safe, inclusive learning environment.
“I can’t wait to hear the laughter and joy that will be in this space. Also, I’m so excited to see the passion that students will start to ignite in themselves once they see what education can do and what is possible for their lives.”
– Charity Jackson, Chief Academic Officer, Magic City Acceptance Academy
The learning model the school embraces is project-based learning, which is moves away from rote learning and allows students to explore subjects conceptually, allowing for creativity and critical thinking.
“We’re looking at servicing the whole student, from academic to the whole being that is in front of us.” – said Charity Jackson, the school’s chief academic officer, in a recent interview.
The school has a strong commitment to the social-emotional learning process. The school leaders want to go beyond academics, fostering learning on self-management, self-awareness, decision-making, relationship skills and social awareness.
As Birmingham’s premier LGBTQ charter school, MCAA plans to serve 6th through 12th-grade students. The school is purposely designed to provide not only LGBT students but all students with an inclusive learning environment that prioritizes trauma-informed instruction while making all students feel seen and safe.
The need to give marginalized students a safe learning environment plus the tools they need to succeed is a trait that diverse charter schools all around the country share.
LGBTQ-Affirming Charter Schools are Thriving
MCAA isn’t alone in its efforts to provide LGBTQ a safe haven. The Albert Einstein Academy is another example of an LGBTQIA-affirming charter school. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the school aims to create as a safe space for students of all backgrounds and identities.
Another charter school designed to support LGBTQ students is The Alliance School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s possibly the oldest, longest-running charter school with such a focus. Established in 2008, the school received a charter school excellence award in 2011 and continues to thrive.
Although there aren’t many existing LGBTQ-affirming charter schools, public school districts around the country have stepped up their efforts to support marginalized students by hosting inclusive events, implementing safety programs for LGBTQ+ youth, and providing resources. For good reasons, there is a growing movement to protect LGBTQ youth in schools.