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Gay Utah Middle School Teen Outed by Administrators

Gay Utah Middle School Teen Outed by Administrators

 

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,”

 

Related Stories:

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School District Mulling Change to Sexual Orientation Policy

 

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Photo credit: annavanna

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74 comments

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6:44AM PST on Jan 13, 2012

I have a neice who is openly gay with her peers and her cousins know her orientation - but she has not "come out" to her mom, her aunts or her grandparents. That doesn't mean we don't already know she is gay. It doesn't matter. We love her. She is who she is, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's such a non-issue with us that I hope she's not even stressing about when, or how, or why, she might want to "formally" or "officially" come out to us. Really. We just want her to be happy.

12:38PM PST on Jan 4, 2012

OK so did they know he was gay or did they suspect and put him in a room where he was interogated by the school teachers and adminstrators untill he broke and admitted that he was? I think there are some deeper questions to be ask here about the conduct of the school than just the outting which I feel is wrong. What if they suspect the child of some other behavour or concern are the able to do the same to them? This just seem wrong in so many ways

7:54AM PST on Jan 4, 2012

The school administrators thought they were doing the right thing, but the fact is they got VERY lucky on this one. If the student's parents were rabidly homophobic to the point of kicking him out of the house and disowning him because of his sexuality, the story could've ended far differently!

Administrators should LISTEN to the students. If the student is reluctant to reveal something such as his/her sexuality or differing religious beliefs to his/her parents, the student usually has a pretty damn good reason for being afraid.

5:56AM PST on Jan 4, 2012

I think the school needs to be punished for this act. The child is supposed to feel safe at school and by this the child can never feel safe at school. The child already had enough issues just with his own turmoil inside. He would have told his parents when ready, no teacher should have pushed the issue.

2:59PM PST on Jan 3, 2012

the school really should have done this better... don't force the kid to do anything! it's not good! i feel they can encourage the kid to tell his parents, but they can't FORCE him...

1:51PM PST on Jan 3, 2012

Can't help but wonder that if the school had a better policy in place, perhaps with more than just one basic response, that this young man might have had the chance to initiate a conversation with his parents in his own way, on his own time. Bringing up such a personal issue often takes planning, maybe a trial run where a friend acts as the parent, etc. Instead the school denied him that right. Perhaps they might want to address their anti-bullying policy (a good start) to the entire school population, in a way that allows interaction and discussion that establishes for sure that bullying and physicality will not be tolerated.

1:24PM PST on Jan 3, 2012

And he also backs again his own stupidity =)

7:51PM PST on Jan 2, 2012

The parents should be told, they pay the taxes for the school. under 18, parents should know everything afterall they pay the bills.
If the kid got hurt or worse the parents would have sued the school

4:30PM PST on Jan 2, 2012

The school's actions were inexcusable.

3:11PM PST on Jan 2, 2012

roxane c. "If he was openly gay at school it was only a matter of time before word got back to the parents"

This is probably true, but does not excuse the school's actions. I am based in the UK and find it difficult (if the details are accurate) to understand why the school authorities were able to breach this young man's privacy with impunity. The timescale from identifying the sexuality of this youngster (who was apparently NOT being 'bullied') to putting pressure on the boy to agree to them informing his parents, appears to be far too rushed. Who spoke with and counselled the boy? why were the motives for his reluctance not examined? Why did the school not respect the boy's wishes? I have worked with many young people who were being victimised - some of whom were gay plus those who are the perpetrators (I am a specialist in child mental health and do not use the term "bullied" in a professional setting, as it really does not accurately describe the terrorism involved in targeting the vulnerability of others ) and what this school did is disgraceful (the staff concerned would be reprimanded for this in the UK).

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