Out cake
Surprise! - Image: Joelk75/Flickr/CC BY

A Utah school district is taking heat because of an incident last week in which an assistant principal told a student’s parents that he was gay. The school continues to defend the action as necessary in the interest of safety.

A classroom project

It all began on Dec. 5 when a 14-year-old boy, a student at the Willowcreek Middle School in Lehi, Utah, was asked — along with the rest of his classmates — to create an advertisement about himself. The boy made up an ad touting his gay orientation. An adult aid  heard one of the other students give a “negative response” to the presentation. Fearing a potential bullying incident, the aide reported it to school administrators.

Boy outed to parents

On Dec. 7, the boy was called into the assistant principal’s office. The boy told the administrator that his parents were not aware of his sexual orientation. She, believing the boys parents needed to be alerted of potential bullying, took it on herself to inform the parents of their son’s sexuality. The boy was not present when his parents were told.

Gay rights groups respond

Gay rights groups have been quick to respond. Eliza Byard, of The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, said:

“Schools should not out LGBT students without their consent. Outing a student not only violates their right to privacy, but also could compromise their safety. Parents can be notified of their child being bullied at school, but without disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

School district defends actions

The school district continues to defend the action taken. Rhonda Bromley, a spokeswoman for the school district, said:

“The administrator did exactly the right thing. We are not going to back down. We take bullying very, very seriously.”

Bromley said that the boy had already made his sexual orientation public in a variety of ways. The district had an obligation to tell the parents about the potential safety concerns the boy might face at school.

Facebook page fuels controversy

A Facebook page appeared within hours of the incident, entreating administrators to “end homophobic discrimination at school.” The Facebook page, which now has more than 400 “likes,” asserts that the school district had the boy suspended over the incident.

“That is not true.” Bromley responded. “His parents choose to keep him at home.”


Daily Herald http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/education/precollegiate/lehi-student-outed-to-parents/article_74c8f5b2-a941-5872-b9e9-df0c4948bdf2.html
Towleroad http://www.towleroad.com/2011/12/willowcreek.html
MSNBC http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/14/9447882-school-on-defensive-after-telling-parents-their-son-is-gay

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