Dec 142011
 December 14, 2011  Posted by  Youth & Schools

Sylvia Wood reports:

A school district in Utah is defending its decision to “out” a middle-school student as gay to his parents in light of safety and bullying concerns.

“The administrator did exactly the right thing,” said Rhonda Bromley, a spokeswoman for the Alpine School District in Lehi, Utah. “We are not going to back down. We take bullying very, very seriously.”

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network urged caution in these situations.

“Schools should not out LGBT students without their consent,” said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. “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.”

Read more on MSNBC.

Well, if you read the whole story, the school didn’t exactly “out” him to his parents. He consented – although “reluctantly” – to having the school inform his parents. This occurred after the student outed himself to his peers.

The school claims that they talked to the parents only because of concern for the student’s safety if were bullied or harassed and noted that there had already been some reactions to him coming out.

And that’s the part that bothers me. If your justification for revealing a teen’s sexuality to parents is to protect him from bullying and harassment, then why not just do your job and prevent bullying and harassment in your school and then there’d be no need to tell the parents? Concerned about bullying or harassment that might go on outside school? Okay, I’ve seen cases like that – where issues that started from school interactions carried over into the community. But I’m not sure what the school’s correct course of action is here. Do they have a duty to warn? Do they have a duty to contact the police and say, “Hey, we’re concerned for a student’s safety because Tom, Dick, and Harry have threatened him in school?”

In this case, the school pressured/urged the student to allow them to tell his parents. Even if we give them the benefit of any doubt as to their good intentions, should schools be outing LGBT students to their parents or pressuring/encouraging students to do so or to let them do so? What do you think?

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