Harvey Milk High School

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Coordinates: 40°43′48″N 73°59′34″W / 40.730056°N 73.992748°W / 40.730056; -73.992748

Harvey Milk High School
Established 1985
Type Public secondary, college
Affiliations New York City Department of Education and Hetrick-Martin Institute
Principal Daphne Perrini
Founder Dr. Emery Hetrick and Dr. Damien Martin
Students 80 students[1]
Grades 9–12
Location 2–10 Astor Place,
New York City, New York, United States
Campus Urban
Website www.HMI.org
M586 at Schools.nyc.gov
Entrance to Harvey Milk High School

Harvey Milk High School is a public high school in the East Village of New York City designed for, though not limited to, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people, as well as those questioning their sexuality. It is named after San Francisco, California supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to office.


The school was originally run by the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI), an organization that provides social support to at-risk youth, especially non-heterosexuals. After becoming a fully accredited public school in 2002, the high school is now administered by the New York City Department of Education, separate from HMI. The school and the non-profit still share space in the same building, with Hetrick-Martin providing a majority of the school's arts and culture programming.

The school was founded in 1985 as a small, two-room program with just over a dozen students by HMI in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education's Career Education Center. The Department of Education administers the school and is responsible for admissions. Harvey Milk was created as an alternative education program for youth who find it difficult or impossible to attend their home schools due to threats, violence, or harassment.[citation needed]

Mission statement and vision[edit]

According to the school's mission statement and vision:

We envision a school where all students are challenged to question the world around them, to develop healthy, personal identities, to participate in meaningful civic and social experiences that will allow them to formulate and realize their educational and career goals. We seek to cultivate an inclusive, academic program emphasizing literacy, technology infusion, and life-long learning skills. With the support of the extensive services provided by The Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) and the involvement of our students' parents/guardians in the educational process, we envision all members in the school community to share accountability for the creation and maintenance of a safe, supportive, academically rigorous, and standards-driven learning environment.

Harvey Milk High School (HMHS) is a transfer high school open to all New York City students who are seeking an alternative educational experience from their current high schools while freely expressing individuality and identity. HMHS provides students a unique, small learning community in a safe, nurturing setting designed to support educational, social, and emotional development to prepare them for adulthood, college, and the world of work. The school offers students a rigorous academic experience aligned with New York State learning standards and expectations. HMHS uses critical thinking to incorporate our history, our life experiences, and the lessons from the world around us.


HMHS came to national attention in 2002, when the Board of Education authorized a $3.2 million capital expansion of the school as one of its last acts prior to becoming a mayoral agency.

The capital provided by the Board of Education allowed for the renovation of the school building. Enrollment jumped from 50 to 100 students. In 2003, “[t]he new school’s principal, William Salzman, said the school will be academically challenging and will follow mandatory English and math programs. It also will specialize in computer technology, arts and culinary arts.”[2]

State Conservative Party chairman Michael Long criticized the creation of the school as social engineering, asking, “Is there a different way to teach homosexuals? Is there gay math? This is wrong... There’s no reason these children should be treated separately.”[2]

Supporters contend that this school is a pragmatic solution, providing an alternative path to a diploma for students who are unable to succeed in a mainstream high school due to intolerance. Not all arguments against the school are divided along partisan lines. Independent mayor Michael Bloomberg supported the renovation of the school while Democratic N.Y. State Senator Rubén Díaz opposed it.

In 2004, the HMHS underwent a 17,000 square foot (1,600 m²) expansion and an increase to eight classrooms and 110 students.

Controversy and Cultural Impact[edit]

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