New LGBTQ school joins battle for trans rights in America
ATLANTA -- Josh Farabee's 14th birthday fell on the same day as his first day at a brand new school. For him it was a double celebration.
"For me, the Pride School is kind of like a safe haven," Farabee told CBS News on a recent sunny afternoon at his home in East Atlanta. "I don't have to worry about what names people may call me or what people would pull in the bathroom. It feels very much like a gift, like finally something amazing in the world."
Pride School Atlanta is the first LGBTQ+ affirming school in the South. Spearheaded by Christian Zsilavets, an openly transgender educator, it will join just a handful of such schools in the U.S. specifically designed as safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth. It's based on the "Free School" model and Zsilavets told CBS News he's particularly focused on transgender students.
"I firmly believe that bringing trans rights to the forefront -- that we're totally ready for it," said Zsilavets, the director and co-founder of Pride School Atlanta. "Now we can start taking care of our trans youth especially."
"We have created a school where everybody gets to be themselves!" Zsilavetz announced to a classroom-full of incoming students and parents.
Farabee was born as female and named Sabrina. In February 2016, he changed his name and his pronouns after coming out to his parents, mother Stacia and step-father Jason Oberweis. His biological father transitioned from male to female in 2011.
"I don't think gender is finite," said Farabee. "To me it's how I feel most comfortable as."
"The full acronym is LGBTQQIAA," added Farabee. "It stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, ally -- and agender. Or asexual. I think it's like both."
With a multi-colored pixie cut and full face expertly-applied makeup, Farabee's five-foot-one slender frame solidifies an outwardly feminine appearance. He said he often gets called a girl and "she."
"I understand -- I look like a girl," he smiled. "I'm not really trying to "make myself" look like a boy, except for wearing baggy jeans and a binder, sometimes, to flatten my chest."
As yet, there is no data on how many trans students are enrolled in U.S. schools, or the specific risks they may face. According to a June 2016 report by the Williams Institute, about 1.4 million adults in the U.S. identify as transgender -- double a widely-used previous estimate.
The same week Farabee started at Pride School, the CDC released the first nationally representative study on the health risks of the estimated 1.3 million U.S. lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) high school students.
"I was bullied in school for a few years," said Farabee. "Most of my friends that are New LGBTQ school joins battle for trans rights in America - CBS News: