NEW YORK - The following is a statement from GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard about the Willowcreek Middle School administration outing a 14-year-old student as gay to his family.
"Educators know that a safe and respectful learning environment is critical for ensuring the health and wellbeing of every student. It is important for school staff to first address the bullying behavior in any instance at school. Schools should not out LGBT students without their consent. Outing a student not only violates their right to privacy, but also could compromise their safety. Parents can be notified of their child being bullied at school, but without disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity.
"Taking away the choice for a LGBT student to come out on their own terms opens the door to significant risks including harassment at school and family rejection. Schools should be able to provide LGBT students with support and resources in order to make an informed decision if and when they decide to come out to their school community and family."
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.