Magic City Acceptance Academy
|Magic City Acceptance Academy|
|District||Alabama State Department of Education|
|Location||75 Bagby Drive|
Magic City Acceptance Academy (MCAA) is a charter high school sponsored by Birmingham AIDS Outreach as part of its mission to provide free services for LGBTQ youth. The school provides a standard high school curriculum while fostering an environment free of bullying, which is a major factor in limiting educational opportunities for LGBTQ students. Straight "allies" are also be welcomed at the school. The curriculum incorporates trauma-informed teaching strategies to facilitate learning.
The Birmingham Board of Education, which generally opposes charter schools, denied the group's application in January 2020. The Alabama Public Charter School Commission, which has frequently overruled local boards, voted 6-2 to deny a charter for the Academy.
The Academy then made plans to open in Homewood. Since Homewood City Schools, unlike Birmingham, played no role in authorizing charter schools, the application was made directly to the state commission.
In their September 10, 2020 meeting the application got 3 affirmative votes and 1 vote against, with four abstentions. Since the application did not receive approval from a majority of the eight members present, it was effectively denied. Chair Henry Nelson requested a re-vote, but the motion failed. The commission did take up the motion again on September 17. Once more it failed to gain a majority, by a vote of 4 in favor, 3 against and 1 abstention, and was therefore denied.
MCAA petitioned for a re-hearing on the grounds that sufficient reasons for rejecting their application had not been furnished. A fourth vote was held on November 4. The schools application was approved then with 7 yes votes, 1 no, and 1 abstention from the 9 members present.
Magic City Acceptance Academy opened in August 2021.
During the 2022 primary elections, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James aired television advertisements with images of the school, its faculty and students taken from social media posts. He dishonestly described the academy as a "transgender public school". Since the ads aired, provoking some harassment, the school increased its security and provided additional counseling to students.
- Dunigan, Jonece Starr (April 25, 2019) "Group wants to open LGBTQ-focused charter school in Birmingham." The Birmingham News
- Dunigan, Jonece Starr (May 12, 2020) "Alabama’s 1st LGBTQ charter school denied state-level appeal." The Birmingham News
- Crain, Trisha Powell (September 10, 2020) "Alabama’s LGBTQ charter school denied again by state commission." The Birmingham News
- Crain, Trisha Powell (September 18, 2020) "Alabama denies LGBTQ charter school again, supporters claim bias." The Birmingham News
- Crain, Trisha Powell (November 4, 2020) "Birmingham LGBTQ safe space charter school approved for 2021 opening." The Birmingham News
- Miles, Kyra (August 30, 2021) "LGBTQ Students Find Hope In New Affirming School: The Magic City Acceptance Academy" WBHM.org
- Crain, Trisha Powell (October 25, 2021) "Alabama schools got $3 billion in federal COVID relief money. Where did it go?" The Birmingham News
- Hedgepeth, Lee (April 13, 2022) "‘Disgusting’: Children called slurs, security increased following political ad attacking Birmingham area school." CBS42.com
- Fortin, Jacey (May 8, 2022) "A Haven for L.G.B.T.Q. Students in the Heart of Alabama." The New York Times
- Tryens-Fernandes, Savannah (May 16, 2022) "Inside the first year of the Alabama school where LGBTQ students are celebrated." The Birmingham News
- McGibney, Megen (JUNE 14, 2022) "Alabama's Magic City Acceptance Academy Is an Oasis for LGBTQ Students As Legislative Attacks Continue" Teen Vogue
- Watson, Nathan (April 28, 2023) "New principal shares exciting plans for Magic City Acceptance Academy." Bham Now
- Magic City Acceptance Academy website