Willowcreek Middle School administrators in Lehi, Utah forced a student to declare his homosexuality to his parents.
A teacher, worried that the student might be bullied because he was openly gay among his peers, brought in her supervisor, who first talked to the teen, encouraging him to tell his parents. Reluctantly, he agreed to do so.
Rhonda Bromley, a spokesperson for Utah’s Alpine School District, claimed that any time there is a fear of a child being bullied, the parents are brought in to discuss the situation as a proactive measure. The teen was not happy with this idea. The local ABC4 reported that in a text message to a friend, he said he felt forced into coming out, since the teacher would tell his family even if he didn’t want her to.
Thus far, the teen’s parents have been very supportive, and a Facebook support group was started. It has more than 400 postings about the incident. Some posts have incorrectly posted that the teen was punished or suspended, and many write that being gay is not a choice and people need to “get over it,” while some have been hate mongering. Most are very supportive of the teen, but not of the faculty or how the situation was handled.
The school administrators and Board are defensive about this, claiming that their primary concern was the safety and protection of the teen. Bromley tells MSNBC that they “are not going to back down and take bullying very very seriously.”
The outcome could have been very different. It is for this reason that many LGBT activists are outraged by what happened. The idea of coming out is commonly believed to be up to the individual and may or may not include parents. In this case, the teen did not have any choice. Despite his protestation, the news was brought to his family’s attention.
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network issued a statement saying that schools should not out students without their consent. Executive director Eliza Byard said, “Taking away the choice for a LGBT student to come out on their own terms opens the door to significant risks, including harassment at school and family rejection,”
Photo credit: annavanna