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LGBT rights advocates say Utah bullying law may backfire

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

OGDEN, Utah — Gay rights leaders in Utah say a new law requiring schools to notify parents when their child is a victim of bullying could potentially do more harm than good.

Advocates say the rule could inadvertently reveal a student’s sexual orientation to their family, which could expose them to more rejection.

bullying“Bullying is a huge problem, and we know from the youth we work with that schools struggle to respond appropriately to keep students safe in our local schools, said Rev. Marian Edmonds, Executive Director of OUTreach Resource Center, a center for at-risk LGBT youth based in Ogden.

“The results of anti-gay bullying include poor school performance, skipping school or dropping out, and even tragic loss of life to suicide,” said Edmonds.

The OUTreach center and Ogden PFLAG facilitated a forum Tuesday with community members to brain-storm ideas on how schools should handle gay students being bullied who aren’t ready to come out to their parents.

“While well intended, this new law will add to the risks for LGBT students and could result in the “outing” of a student and may very well be a tragedy waiting to happen,” said Edmonds.

In Utah, there are more than 1,300 homeless youth, roughly half identifying as LGBT. Half of the LGBT youth report being kicked out of the family home because of their orientation or gender identity.

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Edmonds noted that other states, such as Massachusetts, have developed specialized guidelines for parental notification for a gender identity or anti-gay bullying incidents, and said similar guidelines in Utah are essential and must be developed and implemented without delay.

“Last night’s forum showed that people in Utah care about the high rate of LGBT youth suicide and homelessness, and will speak up to make sure this law protects and serves all youth,” Edmonds told LGBTQ Nation. “The new law is a positive step forward, and with such a public outpouring, we hope it may be made even better, with appropriate guidelines in place to keep LGBT youth safe.”

The notification law took effect on Sept. 1.

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15 more reader comments:

  1. Well isn’t this just a fine kettle of fish..

    Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 10:18pm
  2. They are notifying the wrong parent. Leave the victims alone, notify the bully’s parents.

    Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 10:29pm
  3. Leave the victims alone and right inform the parents, I would kick some asses if they touch my kids

    Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 10:40pm
  4. As a parent I would want to b notified..not necessarily to “out” my child..but because I watched my brother grow up confused and bullied. He was severly depressed, attempted suicide and couldve used counseling. All of which couldve been done if my mom knew. I agree the parents of the bully should b notified as well, but the bullied children could b scarred and need help. An enlightened parent could use this to facilitate a much needed conversation. Unfortunately after reading part of the article about the majority of homeless children cue to their sexual orientation I don’t think there’s 1 good answer to this problem..

    Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 11:04pm
  5. I know this may sound naive, but why didn't you tell your mother, instead of just watching him in pain?

    Replied on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 11:40pm
  6. all those who will hurt gay kids,regardless if it’s by words or physical should be cursed!!! salty showers and curses be upon them!!

    Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 11:53pm
  7. I was 12…didn’t know what was going on til I found him at home unconscious and called 911…as I grew older n saw what it did to him I can see where it came from.

    Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 11:55pm
  8. Brittany I’m sorry to hear blessing go up!!! And growing up was different for me I would bully them b4 they bully me!! I seen what others went true and tried to stand up but some of them just don’t want to fight back their scared!! It’s sad it’s still going on cause I’m older now I hope things would change but I guess not!!! :-(

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 1:13am
  9. Thats not right

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 1:40am
  10. Utah is kind of a theocracy. This law was well intentioned but not well thought out. If the kid is gay and the parents arent cool with it the notification could create another source of harassment: the family!

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 4:53am
  11. Growing up gay in Ogden Utah was tough. I was bullied as a child for being gay too. If you end up outing kids to their parents they could end up on the streets because of the the parents religious beliefs. It shouldn’t matter why someone is being bullied….just the fact that they are being bullied should be enough. If kids start getting outed to their parents …it’s only going to make the issue worse. It was hard enough for me at 19….I can’t imagine being out at 15 or 16.

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:07am
  12. Why not have all parents sign a form saying they allow the school to council the children through the bullying if there’s worry that their child may be afraid to tell them. I believe telling either set of parents at first will not be good for the victim. Create the ladder in which this matter should be dealt with. Obviously no easy task but this trial and error phase should be thought out a lot harder as these children are going through enough.

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 6:19am
  13. Leave the victims alone, the aggressor should be charged, expelled and any other legal recourse that can be taken should be. Once we start treating bullies like criminals, and they see other bullies being sentenced to time in juvenile detention for their actions the bullying trend will begin to decrease.

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 1:20pm
  14. I understand their reasoning, but I can also see the point of the law…

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 2:13pm
  15. Shouldn’t both the parents of the victim and the parents of the bully be informed?

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:58pm