Ansonia Teacher starts LGBTQ school, first of its kind in Connecticut

The school, which shares space in the same building as the Ansonia Boys & Girls Club, will provide a safe environment for seventh and eigth graders who may have been bullied because of who they are.

Mark Sudol

Jun 12, 2023, 9:45 PM

Updated 341 days ago

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The first LGBTQ school is coming to Connecticut this fall.
It was started by a woman who faced many of the same hardships as the students she hopes to protect.
Ansonia Teacher Patty Nicolari came out in 1997.
"Best day of my life," said Nicolari.
It was the same day that Ellen DeGeneres came out as well.
For 15 years before that, this teacher of the year was afraid to share her true feelings.
"Kids were suspecting that I was gay, so they would shout, 'We have a dyke for a teacher,' they scratched 'lez' in my car as big as could be," said Nicolari.
But once Nicolari came out she was relieved and got a lot of support.
"I remember this one football player was walking into my health class and he stood in the hallway, and he was like 'Miss Nic, if anyone gives you a hard time, they're going to have to go through me,'" said Nicolari.
Nicolari says her journey motivated her to help others.
"I knew that I needed to change the perception of Ansonia and change the perception for students that there are gay people that they know and respect," said Nicolari.
Nicolari has started Proud Academy in Ansonia.
Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti is on board.
"I want to welcome Proud Academy to the city. Not only has the Mayor but as a parent of a transgender daughter," said Cassetti in a video message.
The school, which shares space in the same building as the Ansonia Boys & Girls Club, will provide a safe environment for seventh and eigth graders who may have been bullied because of who they are.
"It is more than a school, we are a movement, and we recognize that," said Nicolari.
The school will be the only one of its kind in New England, and only the fifth in the nation.
Nicolari hopes this is the beginning of more safe learning environments like this for kids around the state.
"When I leave this earth that I will have hopefully left the space a better space for people filled with more love and less hate," said Nicolari.
The school is open to 20 students. Classes begin Sep. 5.


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