Bullying | Education | News

School Finds Itself Between Bullies and Parents After Gay Student Outs Himself: VIDEO

So what happens when a middle school student decides to "out" himself to classmates, and the school hears and sees negative comments which could expose the student to bullying, and the gay student isn't out to his parents?

WillowCreekJHSThat's the situation Willowcreek Middle School in Lehi, Utah found itself in, the Daily Herald reports:

District officials have done interviews with media across the country questioning whether the assistant principal overstepped her bounds.

The controversy began with a series of incidents on Dec. 5 and 6, according to district spokeswoman Rhonda Bromley. A 14-year-old boy at Willowcreek Middle School in Lehi was showing affection with another male student during school. The boy also attended a class where each student was assigned to create an advertisement about him or herself. The ad he created was about his homosexual orientation. All the ads were being hung on the classroom wall, and the teacher asked the boy if he wanted his to be hung with the rest. The boy said yes. When a student "gave a negative response" in the hallway about the boy's sexual orientation, an adult aide alerted school administrators about potential bullying, Bromley said.

Because of that concern about bullying, on Dec. 7 the assistant principal called the student into her office. The boy told her that his parents did not know about his sexual orientation. The administrator felt the parents needed to be aware of the potential bullying and safety concerns, and called the parents into her office. At the student's request, the boy was not present when his parents were told about what had happened at school.

Now, a Facebook page (if someone can find it please post a link to it in the comments) has been created accusing the school of homophobic discrimination and suspending the student for being gay.

Say Bromley: "That is not true. His parents choose to keep him at home."

Watch a report on the controversy from Utah's KSL, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. The school did the right thing by addressing the bullying before anything happened.

    Posted by: Arthur V | Dec 14, 2011 1:18:49 PM


  2. I'd say the school did the right thing. If the boy is comfortable with telling (by revealing in a class profile) his classmates that he is gay then he should not fear his parents finding out, either through his own discussions with them or by his parents being informed of his class profile (the advertisement about himself) by school officials. And, if it is true that his parents kept him home (safety? punishment?) they must have a reason for doing so, whereas, if the school suspended him for being open with his classmates about his sexual preference that would be wrong. By being open the school has a duty to protect him from harm because of his preference. If the parents are unhappy about their son being gay it would be to their advantage to seek professional guidance/assistance.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Dec 14, 2011 1:34:15 PM


  3. I agree with the two posters above. School did the right thing.

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Dec 14, 2011 1:36:34 PM


  4. I feel sorry for the school and the assistant principal, because based on these reports it really sounded like they made a tough decision (and the right decision) with the best intentions for the child, and now they are being punished because of rumors. I hope that this is the case and it all blows over soon. The student and parents don't seem to be raising a fuss, so I have to believe that the FB page is false and just there to sow dischord. If--heaven forbid--the student is being sequestered by the parents in some abusive, less than unconditionally loving way, then he knows that he has an ally in the school administration. I hope all turns out well in the end.

    Posted by: T.s. | Dec 14, 2011 1:39:47 PM


  5. What's the controversy? That the school told the parents their kid was gay? I think he did that in an indirect way by literally posting an ad about his orientation.

    This is what we've been saying we want schools to do: to stop bullying.

    Posted by: Mick | Dec 14, 2011 1:43:46 PM


  6. Oh, the Law of Unintended Consequences rears its ugly head again. I agree, the school did the only thing they really could do. If something did happen to this kid, the *first* thing everyone would freak out about is "why didn't the parents know?!"

    Posted by: NaughtyLola | Dec 14, 2011 1:45:50 PM


  7. Complete support for the school here. They did the right thing. Any outrage is misplaced. Sometimes hard choices have to be made, but a student's safety is paramount. And, ultimately, I'm not sure the child wasn't hoping to be outed to his parents. He was pushing the boundaries in a way that says he may have been hoping the coming out would happen without having to face his parents (a scary thing for some). Either way, if violence is averted, he will hopefully have a freer, true-er adolescence because no more secrets exist. It's up to how his parents handle it now. But I don't think the school did anything wrong.

    Posted by: BreckRoy | Dec 14, 2011 1:55:36 PM


  8. If the facts are as the news report suggests, then absolutely the school did 100% the right thing.

    The same thing happened to me...I outed myself at school, and the school forced me to come out to my parents.

    It was tremendously difficult for me, but the school has surrogate parental responsibility, and must involve parents in any significant parenting issues.

    I found this link on Facebook which identifies the teen as "Hyrum Miller":

    http://tinyurl.com/86w3xuy

    And here's the "Support Hyrum Miller" FB page:

    http://tinyurl.com/8ycko4b

    Posted by: Chris | Dec 14, 2011 1:59:42 PM


  9. No controversy here. Be glad that the school is actually protecting its LGBT students from bullying. Especially a school in Utah, nonetheless.

    Posted by: Erik | Dec 14, 2011 2:01:53 PM


  10. Interesting all the comments on the 1st FB page (and most on the 2nd FB page) suggest the school was wrong.

    Posted by: Chris | Dec 14, 2011 2:03:26 PM


  11. Seems to me the school did the right thing.

    The fact that the school had to out the student to his parents is no different than when a school has to inform parents of any other kind of behavior that their child has engaged in while at school. I mean isn't it a clearly understood maxim that what you do in school is always fair grounds for being reported to your parents?

    Now, if the parents were known homophobes then this story may implicate a different set of questions regarding the safety of the student. But there's no indication from this post thats the case.

    Posted by: AERES | Dec 14, 2011 2:15:20 PM


  12. Are you people all delusional?

    OF COURSE it was wrong to out the kid to his parents. It's not anyone's place to out a person to anyone, nontheless their first of kin. The child relies on them for food, shelter and support and if wind or word got around to the wrong people he could be without a home - or *worse*, sent to Christian/Military/Conversion camp to get the gay out of him.

    All of you have a *serious* disconnect with reality if you believe that there could be no negative ramifications to this kid being outted against his will. There is a *HUGE* difference between being out at school and being out at home and the school, while absolutely correct in addressing the bullying quickly and efficiently could've (and should've) brought it up without discussing the child's sexual orientation in the process.

    Posted by: Nicholas | Dec 14, 2011 2:18:13 PM


  13. Earth to Nicholas. Earth to Nicholas. You are either a child yourself or just fell off a turnip truck.

    Posted by: Major Tom | Dec 14, 2011 2:41:28 PM


  14. @Nicholas

    You're assuming facts that do not exist in this situation.

    Were my kid in any kind of danger - be it self-inflicted or otherwise - as a parent I deserve to know that.

    Its not the role of a school to to weigh the "what ifs" of what might happen at home when making a decision regarding whether or not they should report to the parents an issue regarding their child's safety at school.

    Posted by: AERES | Dec 14, 2011 2:48:14 PM


  15. As a minor, the student's parents had the right to know anything that was happening with him while at school. Up until he turns 18, his parents have control over the disclosure of his educational records. I don't think the school did anything wrong with handling the situation.

    Posted by: Chaz | Dec 14, 2011 2:55:04 PM


  16. The school did the right thing. The parents on the other hand, did not. But it is not within the power of the school to deal with bullying from the child's parents.

    Posted by: Diego | Dec 14, 2011 3:04:29 PM


  17. I support the school and the comments on this page regarding the responsibility of schools to the student's safety and to parents/the role of parents in this situation.

    @Nicholas, how exactly should the school have told the parents he was being bullied and potentially threatened out of the blue without offering any history, context, or the nature of the bullying. They would have had to have instructed the other students, teachers involved, and administrators to obscure the facts surrounding the bullying; and they would have had a minefield to negotatiate when the facts came out--if the students tried to "defend" themselves, they'd come out right there--and the parents wanted to know why everyone had been leaving out a pretty critical part of the story. Given that this all came from a voluntary act the child made--creating an ADVERTISEMENT and asking/authorizing it to be displayed in hallway--it's different from a child being out to select friends in the schoool.)

    Posted by: LuckyLinden | Dec 14, 2011 3:09:26 PM


  18. @Nicholas, you're spiraling out to hyperbole. Not one comment here suggests that there might not be negative ramifications to coming out. But it seems like many people here feel that the kid's own actions left the school with little choice.

    How was the school supposed to address the bullying without divulging the reason he was being bullied? The kid came out and then his parents found out.

    Posted by: Mick | Dec 14, 2011 3:26:35 PM


  19. Tough call, but it did seem like a matter of urgency. As an administrator, I probably would still ask the student if he or she could reasonably anticipate harm by his or her parents if sensitive information were revealed to them and offer suggestions that to support the student. I imagine this scenario played out with a pregnant girl, a situation where many states forbid information being given to the parents and forbid administrators, teachers, caregivers, etc., to coax the girl into telling her parents.

    Posted by: matt | Dec 14, 2011 4:03:28 PM


  20. I think the school def. had the kid's best interest in mind when they did this. it doesn't seem to come from a negative place. now, if the child was off school grounds and a teacher saw him kissing another boy, and THEN decided to tell his parents... then it would be overstepping. But, if you draw a picture that says "I'm gay," and ask the teacher to post it on the wall, you're basically coming out. School is not an insulated "Cone-of-Silence." Another student could have told his parents who might have alerted the child's in question.

    He came out, end of story. Good for the school.

    Posted by: Hollywood, CA | Dec 14, 2011 4:37:26 PM


  21. The school did the right thing.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | Dec 14, 2011 5:03:01 PM


  22. Spinning out into hyperbole? You mean that 1 in 3 suicides between the ages of 14 and 21 aren't a queer person? And you mean that 1 in 4 homeless youth between the ages of 15 and 19 identify as LGTBQ?

    This is some privileged nonsense.

    Posted by: Nicholas | Dec 14, 2011 5:21:18 PM


  23. Holy crap, I go to that school and I know that Kid!

    Posted by: Some Kid | Dec 14, 2011 5:43:00 PM


  24. @NICHOLAS:
    Parents absolutely need to know what's going on with their child. Parents are responsible for their child, and need to be accountable, and hence need to be informed.

    If they're not fit parents, then remove the child from the home. But until you prove they're not fit parents, they must be involved!

    If parents are made aware, they can probably reduce the chance the child commits suicide. Your suicide argument makes no sense.

    Posted by: Chris | Dec 14, 2011 5:52:42 PM


  25. Nicholas, it says they discussed the requirement to tell his parents WITH the student first, and that AT HIS REQUEST he was not present when they informed the parents, which means that the student was involved and informed at every step of this process. I don't know what they would have done if he had said he absolutely did not want his parents to be aware that he was gay, but from what I see there, the kid was participating in the school's actions to help resolve the bullying issue and the school was trying to support and protect him.

    Also, if you don't want your parents to know you're gay, maybe creating a poster-sized advertisement about it and posting it on your school wall isn't the best idea.

    Posted by: Sonneillon | Dec 14, 2011 7:12:31 PM


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