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Utah Middle School Defends Outing Gay Student To Parents As Bullying Prevention Effort

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates have slammed a Utah middle school's decision to disclose a gay teen's sexuality to his parents.

As The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting, the 14-year-old boy's parents, who have asked that their names not be released to media, were notified by a teacher because officials at Willowcreek Middle School in Lehi say they were making an effort to be "proactive" in preventing bullying. "We do include parents any time there's a potential safety issue with a student," said Rhonda Bromley, a spokesperson for Utah's Alpine School District.

After the student revealed he was gay in a class assignment, an administrator talked to the boy and encouraged him to discuss the issue with his parents, to which he reluctantly agreed. “The student chose himself to make his sexuality known in a variety of ways,” Bromley told MSNBC. “And there had already started to be some negative feedback. If there is the potential for a bullying or a harassment situation, it’s the responsibility of the school to step in and to make sure the student is safe." Reportedly at the boy’s request, he was not present when his parents were told, MSNBC noted.

However, local news channel ABC 4 cites a text message the student apparently sent to a friend, which reads: "The next day, she calls me down to the office and … tells that she is going to basically force my (sic) out of the closet, by telling my parents that I am gay, despite my protests."

Although Bromley noted the student's parents have been "very supportive" of their son, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) criticized the school's decision. "Schools should not out LGBT students without their consent," GLSEN executive director Eliza Byard said, according to The Advocate. "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."

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