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A new Utah law mandating that schools notify parents when children are victims of bullying could inadvertently reveal a student's sexual orientation to their families, potentially exposing them to rejection, gay rights leaders in Ogden said Tuesday.
"While well intended, this new law will add to the risks for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] students," said a statement from the Rev. Marian Edmonds, executive director of the OUTreach Resource Center. It "could result in the 'outing' of a student and may very well be a tragedy waiting to happen."
The center is calling for new guidelines for parental notification in gender identity or anti-gay bullying cases, modeled on those in states such as Massachusetts.
OUTreach will host a community forum on the issue tonight at 7 p.m. at the Weber County Library Auditorium, 2464 Jefferson Ave., in Ogden. Ogden Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays is also participating.
The event will be moderated by Barry Gomberg, executive director of affirmative action and equal opportunity at Weber State University, and will include remarks by students, parents, a family psychology and a school counselor. Attendees also are invited to share their experiences.
"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," Edmonds said. "Appropriate guidelines in Utah are essential and must be developed and implemented without delay."