(KCPW News) A spokeswoman for the Alpine School District says a Lehi middle school did not “out” a 14-year-old student to his parents as punishment for being gay, contrary to a Facebook page that criticizes the school’s actions. Rhonda Bromley says claims that the school suspended him for coming out aren’t true.
“We are doing everything we can to keep this young man safe and to help him feel supported.” She says. “This is a challenging time in his life and we absolutely need to include the parents. When there is a safety issue going on with the student, we will never apologize for including parents.”
Bromley says the student at Willowcreek middle school made his sexual orientation known through a publicly displayed class assignment. She says some students reacted negatively. Administrators confronted the students, pulled the boy aside and despite his reluctance, informed his parents. She says they were supportive, but decided to keep him home for a few days.
Valerie Larabee, Executive Director of the Utah Pride Center, says she’s glad the student is safe, but the consequences of outing someone at the wrong time can be devastating.
“We always encourage people that before they come out to the most important people in their life that they build a support system around themselves, in case the conversations don’t go well.” She says. “And we never encourage people to come out without being prepared for that. And I’m not sure how a 14-year-old can prepare for that within several hours.”
Larabee says more education about LGBT issues is necessary in schools to prepare young gay people who are thinking of coming out.