overview

Many New York City public schools are named in honor of prominent figures in American and world history.

Dag Hammarskjöld Public School 254, in Brooklyn, inadvertently honors an LGBT individual.

Header Photo
Credit: Google Maps, 2018.

History

Many New York City public schools are named in honor of prominent figures in American and world history. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project compiled a list of the public schools named after gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, although only one — Harvey Milk High School — intentionally honors an LGBT individual. This list includes Dag Hammarskjöld Public School 254 in Brooklyn.

Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961) was Sweden’s representative to the United Nations General Assembly (1951-53), and was unexpectedly asked to serve as Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1953. He was reelected unanimously for a second term in 1957. During his tenure, Hammarskjöld was a crucial force in promoting peace throughout the world, in line with the United Nations charter. He died in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia in 1961 and was posthumously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

An extremely private man, Hammarskjöld was born into a powerful political family and raised in a strict Swedish Christian tradition. He never revealed details of his personal life, even in his private journals. His sexuality was questioned during his lifetime, and he was subjected to gossip from columnists and political enemies. Though there is no direct evidence, biographers have concluded that he was probably homosexual, and possibly asexual, living a life of sexual abstinence and self-sacrifice, in devotion to his elevated international role and profile. The first English language book to address this was Noble Lives: Biographical Portraits of Three Remarkable Gay Men – Glenway Wescott, Aaron Copland, and Dag Hammarskjöld (2005) by Marc E. Vargo.

Sites on this website associated with Hammarskjöld include Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza/ Katharine Hepburn Garden.

Entry by Jay Shockley, project director (December 2023).

NOTE: Names above in bold indicate LGBT people.

Building Information

  • Architect or Builder: Walter C. Martin
  • Year Built: 1937-38

Sources

  1. Jerry Flack, book review of Noble Lives, RLD Books, bit.ly/3o0JhiI.

  2. Marc E. Vargo, Noble Lives: Biographical Portraits of Three Remarkable Gay Men – Glenway Wescott, Aaron Copland, and Dag Hammarskjöld (New York: Harrington Park, 2005).

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29 Sites

LGBT-Named Public Schools

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