Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Hot seat for teacher? Teen outed
A middle school administration was briefly in the hot seat after it “outed” a student as being gay. The assistant principal contacted parents of the boy after his teacher came to the office with concerns over the boys safety.
Spokeswoman for the school district, Rhonda Bromley told reporters that the students in a class at Willowcreek Middle School in Lehi had been assigned to create an advertisement about themselves that would hang on the classroom wall. This 14-year-old student's ad was about him being gay.
“The teacher asked the student if he wanted his ad put up on the wall with the rest of the class. He said yes. School officials then worried the student was a potential target for bullying because of negative comments overheard in the hallway.” Said Bromley.
"When there started to be a little bit of a negative response to that, the administration called him in and got involved," Bromley said.
"The assistant principal spoke to the student and discovered the student's parents did not know about his sexual orientation. The assistant principal decided it was important to let the boy's parents know about their concerns over bullying.
"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. It's the responsibility of the school to include the parent," Bromley said.
On Dec. 7 the parents were called in for a meeting with the assistant principal, which the student did not attend.
At about this same time, said the report, a Face book page was created with the student's name, saying he was outed by the school to his parents. It also said he had been suspended for being gay. Bromley says the school did not suspend the boy, but his parents decided to keep him home.
So, I tried to go on face book and get some information. There is, nothing available to me on face book, which, I must say, pleased me no end. Of course, these people are underage, so without knowing their names, there should be no way to access this. So far so good.
I wondered why a face book page was created in the first place and I came up with two reasons. The first is the old fashioned paranoid response of "gay is wrong--get him out of the school". The second is that someone was trying to be proactive and make the public aware that a possible miss justice situation was brewing for this kid. If that is the case, then one can forgive, and kudos for someone for trying to make others aware.
Fact is I don't know which.
The district defends the way the incident was handled, saying the boy had 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.