overview

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

Susan B. Anthony Academy (Intermediate School 238), in Queens, inadvertently honors an LGBT individual.

Header Photo
Credit: Google Maps, 2020.

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 Susan B. Anthony Academy (Intermediate School 238) in Queens.

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) has been called “the most famous lesbian in America in the 19th century” by the writer Victoria A. Brownworth. Born into a Quaker family, Anthony began as a lecturer for the abolitionist and temperance causes, and turned to women’s rights in 1852. She became one of the single most important leaders of the American women’s rights and suffrage movements. Historian Lillian Faderman called Anthony “the driving force” of American suffrage for decades, as she was constantly traveling all over the country, speaking and bringing women into the movement. The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, was ratified in 1920 and is widely known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment.” Faderman has established that the American suffrage movement was largely led by “women who loved other women,” unencumbered by the constraints of heterosexual marriage and children. Anthony had a long, close personal and working relationship with the married Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from 1851 until Stanton’s death in 1902. And though Anthony was derided by opponents in her day as “manly,” and desexualized by many subsequent historians, her romantic attachments with other women are well documented in letters. Anthony was the central figure in the opera The Mother of Us All (1947) by Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein, in which she is depicted in a relationship with “Anne.”

This school became the Susan B. Anthony Academy in 1972.

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

NOTE: Names above in bold indicate LGBT people.

Building Information

  • Architect or Builder: Undetermined
  • Year Built: 1969

Sources

  1. Lillian Faderman, To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done for America – A History (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999).

  2. Victoria A. Brownworth, “Lesbian Erasure: part two,” Philadelphia Gay News, October 11, 2018, bit.ly/3RA12UE.

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