Utah Middle School Student Outs Himself
A 14-year-old student from the small city of Lehi, Utah, part of Utah County, outed himself while making a school project, reported the Utah news station KSL in a Dec. 14 article.
Rhonda Bromley, a spokeswoman for the school district, told the news station that a teacher at Willowcreek Middle School assigned her students a project to "create an advertisement about themselves" that would be put on display. The 14-year-old made his ad about being gay.
The teacher asked the student if he wanted to display his ad and he told the teacher that he did. School officials were concerned that the student would be bullied because of "negative comments overheard in the hallway."
"When there started to be a little bit of a negative response to that, the administration called him in and got involved," Bromley said.
She also claims that the assistant principal spoke to the 14-year-old and found out that the boy's parents did not know he was gay. The assistant principal found it necessary that his parents know because the student could be an easy target for bullying. On Dec. 7 the parents met with school officials to discuss the matter.
"In that case, it's absolutely important that we include parents any time there is a safety issue that has to do with the student," Bromley said. "It's the responsibility of the school to include the parent."
Around the same time as the meeting, a Facebook page was made with the student's name. The page claimed that he was outed to his parents by the school and that he was suspended for being gay. Bromley told the news station that the boy was not suspended, but his parents decided to keep him home.
She also says that the district and middle school has been under attack because people believed the school punished the boy for being gay, which is not true.
The school district defends the way it handled the incident and says that "the boy made his sexual orientation public at school and educators had an obligation to let parents know about potential bullying and safety concerns."
"We need to step in and do whatever it takes to make these students feel safe," Bromley said.
"If it's happening at school, we have the responsibility to include the parents and let them know what's going on so they, too, can do what they can to keep an eye on things at home, so they can help that student feel support and safe, not just at school but when they are at home, as well," she said.
Several schools across the country have experienced acts of bullying that have gone too far, resulting in the suicides of many gay youth.
EDGE reported in a Dec. 9 article about a high school senior from Tennessee who took his own life after enduring years of harassment for being gay.
Jacob Rogers' ended his life on Dec. 7 and his good friend Kaelynn Mooningham told the media that no one was standing up or helping him.
"He started coming home his senior year saying 'I don't want to go back. Everyone is so mean. They call me a faggot, they call me gay, a queer,'" friend Kaelynn Mooningham said.
"Jacob told me no one was helping him. He constantly was going to guidance," she added.