Should a school reveal to parents if their child is gay? Other stuff?

School officials in Utah have told the parents of a student that their child is gay in the hopes of preventing bullying.

Here is the story from AP:

“LEHI, Utah — School officials say they were being proactive against bullying in deciding to tell the parents of a Utah student that he is gay.

The move came after a 14-year-old student created an advertisement about himself and his sexual orientation during a class project.

Alpine School District officials said an aide overheard other students making negative comments about the boy, who had told administrators he was gay but wasn’t ready to tell his parents.

District spokeswoman Rhonda Bromley said Tuesday the boy reluctantly agreed to allow his sexual orientation to be revealed to his parents but chose not to be present when they were told.

Bromley says the parents are supportive but concerned about misconceptions involving the boy’s treatment at school. His parents removed him from school until the controversy subsides.”

So I can see where the school would want to let the parents know what was happening so they could act, but telling your parents that you are gay is such a personal decision that I feel for this young man.

What do you think? Did the school do right by telling the parents for his protection? Should they have said something more general to the parents such as we worry your child is being bullied just be aware and not give a specific reason? Should the school tried to handle internally without the parents knowing?? (I think the school was trying to reduce its liability by letting them know.)

From another perspective, should a school reveal to parents if they find out a teen is sexually active or if they are pregnant? Does that stuff not fall into the same lines because it’s not about potential bullying?

Where is the line of revealing personal info to the parents?

(What’s so odd is once they get to college, the professors are not even allowed to talk to the parents. I’ve had a very sick student in my class and I couldn’t talk to her parents at all! (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.)

27 comments Add your comment

JOD

December 15th, 2011
3:55 pm

So the boy was willing to ‘advertise’ it at school, but not talk to his parents and decline to be present when the school told them? Sounds to me like some other dynamic is at work here. Perhaps they are fundies who talk openly about ‘homos’?

☺☻Have A Smile!

December 15th, 2011
4:14 pm

…fundies..” <– please never use such a lame-arse expression as this again.

Good grief.

Wayne

December 15th, 2011
4:32 pm

They could have put it a bit more delicately. Say something like “we’ve had reports of students saying negative comments about your child. Please be aware that we are monitoring the situation, but you might want to talk with your child about…. yada, yada, yada” Much better than, “hey, umm, parent? Your child’s gay and he’s getting picked on at school. Might want to do something about that…”

Please.

Scotty

December 15th, 2011
4:40 pm

I just don’t think that’s the schools place. Coming out to your parents is a very emotional and very tough thing to do and it is a very personal decision. No one else should have been able to decide for this kid when he came out to his parents.

And yes, I understand that he told administrators and incorporated it into a class project, but I think that it can be easier to come out to people that you don’t have that strong emotional bond / connection with. I know my brother who is gay found it easier to tell classmates and teachers (granted, that was in college) than to tell myself, our sisters and our parents. I think it’s one thing for the administrators at the school to know so that they can prevent any bullying but I think taking that huge leap and outing the student to his parents should have only been taken if a major incident happened – if the student was ever physically bullied or emotionally bullied to his breaking point, contemplating suicide – not as a preventative measure though. Perhaps the school could have just made the parents aware that they thought the child was being bullied but without attaching the “because he’s gay” part.

I suppose what bothers me the most about this whole thing is that administrators supposedly heard other students making negative comments – but did the student ever actually come to them and say he was being bullied? Did he know about the comments others were making? Not that that excuses those making the negative comments, but if the child was unaware then why would the administration drum up this drama? Also, the student says he told administrators that he was not ready to tell his parents and it says he “reluctantly” agreed to let them tell his parents which makes me wonder if the school administrators did a bit of bullying on their part to get his reluctant permission to tell his parents.

JOD

December 15th, 2011
4:59 pm

@Scotty – Interesting perspective, thanks for sharing.

@Smiley – If it walks like a fundy, call it a fundy. Fundy is, in fact, a word. Oops, guess that was 3 times.

catlady

December 15th, 2011
5:18 pm

Perhaps I am not thinking through this very well, but I don’t think the school should “share” any of this information. With anyone.

Denise

December 15th, 2011
5:26 pm

This preventative measure sounds like it can be more hurtful than helpful. If a child doesn’t want to be present when his parents is giving information about him, maybe something is wrong in his home life. And even if he’s not present at the telling, he has to go home and face his parents. I don’t think it’s the school’s business – especially in college, Theresa – to share information on something that MIGHT happen. ANYTHING MIGHT happen at any given minute. If the school wanted to be proactive they should have done something IN SCHOOL to let the students know that bullying would not be tolerated. WTH are the parents supposed to do but take the kid out of school? They can’t go to school with him to prevent him from being bullied.

Fred

December 15th, 2011
5:57 pm

I would hope that my daughter would tell me, not someone from the school. But I don’t think they should have done so. I agree with catlady, the school doesn’t need to “share” it with ANYONE. It’s not really their business unless the boy WAS getting bullied for it. And in the case of the bullying, they should handle the scumbag bulliers, not worry about who the boy was holding hands or swapping spit with.

Anj

December 15th, 2011
6:00 pm

@Scotty Many good points

IMO
ZOMG! What did the school think they were doing?
Knowing what some parents have done to their children when they discovered their child – I would not “out” a child. (Some things have included: kicked child out of the house, sent child to a camp to attempt to counsel/brainwash them into heterosexuality.) Would you do something that had the potential to cause a child to become homeless – if you weren’t going to help them?

Secondly, the thing to do about bullying is to encourage the victims(/everyone) to report such behavior so that the bullies can be identified and dealt with. If you feel that a student is “at risk” for bullying, it might be appropriate to notify the parents of that, and to encourage them to talk with their child about any problems and to notify the school if there is any problem or concern that the school can help with.

I can talking to parents if the student shows a pattern of disturbing behavior. But identifying as LGTB? “ZOMG! Your child is developing a sexual identity – we think you should DO something about this shocking development!”.

Anj

December 15th, 2011
6:10 pm

As for the objection to “fundies” – perhaps we should come right out and say “Mormon” instead. It’s well known that The Church Of Latter Day Saints removes members who are not heterosexual. I have no idea if the LDS also pressures families to renounce family members who are LGTB, but it would not surprise me if this has happened.

Vince Doodly

December 15th, 2011
7:32 pm

Im going to love my child regardless of orientation. My first priority is their safety. having a healthy discussion about orientation is something that can be managed. I would find it a very difficult conversation, but Im not going to let anybody hurt my kid because of who they are.

Augusta

December 16th, 2011
8:24 am

I read this article yesterday, and while I understand the school’s position, IT’S NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS!!!!!

I would be furious if the school told me my child was gay, and would immediate yank ALL my kids out of that school. I have no problems with that lifestyle, but I don’t want to be informed by a teacher. I would want my kid to come and talk to me. I will love my children no matter what their sexual orientation. I want them to be happy. That’s a tough decision to make, and a hard life ahead, but they would have my full support!!!

FAIL Pointer-Outer

December 16th, 2011
8:54 am

If it walks like a fundy, call it a fundy. Fundy is, in fact, a word. Oops, guess that was 3 times.

Spoken like a true douche. Bravo!

tancred

December 16th, 2011
10:11 am

I think bullying is an important part of growing up; both doing it and receiving it. A few good fist fights is also a good thing to go through. Life is tough, and no child should be mollycoddled into being a wuss, especially a gay kid. Goodness knows that gays are wussy enogh without being “protected” from names. C’mon folks. Sticks and stones, etc.

Kat

December 16th, 2011
11:07 am

It’s a sad relationship between parents and their child if they don’t KNOW about something like this before (seemingly) the school does. Bad parents need to be told that they need to pay attention to their children better. Case in point: kids playing alone on playgrounds

Anj

December 16th, 2011
11:44 am

@Tancred

I suspect you don’t know many of the LGTB persuasion. “wussies”? Hardly. It’s the straight men who hyperventilate when another man makes a pass at them that need a course in BadAss.

A person SMART enough to know......

December 16th, 2011
12:52 pm

Don’t tell me the parents didn’t know their son was gay. They would have to be asleep at the wheel not to notice some of the clues. Check his on-line record and they would see he was on gay porn sites.

cc03

December 16th, 2011
1:41 pm

As a school counselor, I agree that coming out is a very personal decision and the school should not have done this for the student. If he was in fact being bullied, then yes, someone at the school should have mentioned this to the parents. But as Theresa asked, yes, the school officials could have spoken to the parents about the possible bullying without revealing the fact that the student is gay. When is comes to sexual activity and pregnancy, reporting that to the parents really depends on a lot of factors. If a girl is pregnant or sexually active and she is 13 or 14 (for example), then yes, that should be reported to the parents. If the student is 18, then no. If a 14 year old student came to me and said that she was having sexual relations with an older male (say a 19 year old), then yes, I would have to report that to the parents.

oneofeach4me

December 16th, 2011
2:08 pm

I agree with Wayne and Scott. And like Scott, I wonder if it wasn’t the administration who was doing the bullying and the fact that they are the ones uncomfortable with it. If the kid was actually being bullied then, and only then, should they have approached the parent. It’s also not their place to relay to the parent that their kid is gay.

As a parent, there are some things you pick up on. This I think would be one of them. The parent’s may of had a feeling that something was off. But the school should leave it to the parents to talk to their kids about it.

Jesse's Girl

December 16th, 2011
2:30 pm

Absolutely not the school’s place. They are trying to cover their arses should the situation ever arise that bullying occured directly due to this student’s reveal. Clearly this kid is trying to convey who he really feels he is. If his classmates and teachers can accept him, then I am sure he felt that whatever his parents’ reaction….that he could handle it because he would have secured some sort of support system. Trust me…the school board did not do this to make sure his empotional health was left in tact. They did this because of the terrible bullying “trend” ocurring presently across the country. Everyone is getting on the sue-you-train. And this is just a way of covering their butts.

tancred

December 16th, 2011
2:42 pm

Hey, Anj.

The hyperventilation is an expression of disgust rather than being a wuss. By “wuss” I mean the typical mincing and poofery that goes along with being gay, the attention to design and clothing and food, etc. Thank goodness for such wusses as they make for a better society overall. I feel more sorry for the high-testosterone jocks that drink bad beer and think NASCAR is a sport. These are the very bullies under discussion. The gay kid will end up with a better income (and a better sense of decor) than the bullies. That said, I still think every young male should be subjected to harsh teasing and, in turn, find a kid on a lower rung that he can tease as well. People need to know their place in society. The idea of being “equal,” after all, was just a proposition.

Old Man

December 16th, 2011
3:16 pm

Well, its “created” equal. What happens after that is up to the individual. Soccer moms and the egalitarian outcomes gang notwithstanding.

Miss Priss!

December 16th, 2011
3:38 pm

Should we tell parents their child is a dumb ass? A disrepectful loser? A booger eater? I’ve done it and it doesn’t help. Let’s live and let … squirm.

Gwinnett Mom

December 16th, 2011
5:40 pm

I dont think we should let any queers in school. They R always wanting 2 change the non queers.

Anj

December 16th, 2011
5:46 pm

@tancred

Bullying is a positive social experience? Now I pity you. I suppose praise and encouragement makes people soft and ineffective, instead of motivated and productive?

Anj

December 16th, 2011
8:51 pm

To any students reading:

If the school asks if they can reveal your sexual orientation to your parents…
tell them “No thank you.”.

If the school pressures you to do such a thing because they are afraid you might be bullied…
tell them to pressure the bullies, not you.

A person SMART enough to know......

December 17th, 2011
9:51 pm

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