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National media, activists react to outing of Utah County gay student

A Utah County school’s decision to out a gay student to his parents is causing concern among some queer-rights activists and prompting national news.

Alpine School District has received phone calls and emails after a Facebook page was created stating that the student was outed without his consent. The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network issued a statement denouncing the administrator’s decision, saying schools should not out students without their consent.

However, much of the protest comes from false reports that the 14-year-old student did not want his parents to be told he is gay, district spokeswoman Rhonda Bromley said.

The student was open about his sexuality in school, including posting an English assignment on the wall expressing his sexual orientation, Bromley said. However, after a teacher heard derogatory comments aimed at the student in the hall, the school’s administration became concerned about bullying, she said.

“The administrators called the student into the office and attempted to address any problems he might be having with bullying, and there were some problems,” Bromley said. “When he was asked if his parents knew he was gay, the student said no, but reluctantly agreed to let the principal tell his parents as long as he wasn’t in the room at the time. The parents weren’t surprised and said they had suspected for some time that he might be gay. The family left together and there appeared to be no real conflict.”

The parents are extremely supportive of their child and his safety is their first concern, she said.

Neither the student or his parents have returned phone calls about the incident and his parents have expressed a desire to keep the matter within the family.

The student’s father told ABCNews.com that his son is loved and supported at home.

“The administration handled everything just fine,” the boy’s father said. “We didn’t have any problems with what they did… He’s got a great support system at school. It’s about him being protected and his friends are all rallying around him.”

The student consented to having the principal tell his parents that he’s gay, and the administrator was motivated by a desire to protect the student, Bromley said.

“Our major concern is the safety of our students, in and out of the school. The parents were told so we could involve the family and help protect the student,” Bromley added. “This was not the first time we’ve had an openly gay student in school and it won’t be the last. We fully support our gay students and their safety is an enormous concern for us. We want to curb bullying and harassment and protect all of our students. We are very much aware of the problems many gay students face with bullying. We want to be a part of the solution, not the problem.”

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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