Should schools out children to parents, even if the parents are LGBT-friendly?

The story of a Utah teen who was outed to his parents by his school after revealing his homosexuality in his class has gotten lot of attention because questions arose about the wisdom of the school administrators reaching out to the parents regarding the teen’s sexuality. While this story has a happy ending (so far), a debate has come out of this situation, on whether the school acted in the best interest of the teen.

The parents of the child when on record as insisting that they’re happy with the school’s actions and that they are accepting of their child’s sexuality. In fact, the people they aren’t too happy with are LGBT activist groups who maintain that the school made an error in judgement by insisting that the kid’s folks know he’s gay.

First of all, I’m thrilled that the parents appear to be supportive of their kid – that’s important. I’m also happy that the school was being proactive in figuring out how to avoid and derail anti-gay bullying before it stops. However, this may create a dangerous precedence where students will be outed to parents that may not be as fully accepting as the couple featured in the article. Also, I hate to be “that guy” but let’s face it: we don’t know just how the parents are reacting to their kid in the privacy of his home. It’s one thing to say to a school administrator “we’re fine” and another to subject the kid to subtle homophobia at home (dad made an interesting comment about how he loves his son no matter what even if he “disagrees” with some “choices”).

Also, coming out is a very personal choice that should be made without coersion or pressure; that’s why I’m against the outing of politicians, even if they’re anti-gay. The kid should decide on his own when it’s best to come out. And I get the parents’ points of view – they want to know everything about their son, and don’t want him to have any secrets, but still the decision should be the child’s.

I worry that other schools in their zeal to appear assertive in combating anti-gay bullying, will out kids to parents who may not be as receptive as the couple featured in the story. These kid will be at risk for abuse, suicide and homelessness. The schools should be proactive in their approach, but should also maintain the confidence and safety of the child.

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