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LEHI -- The Alpine School District is in the national spotlight because of a situation involving a middle school student who identifies as gay.
District spokeswoman Rhonda Bromley told KSL students in a class at Willowcreek Middle School in Lehi were assigned to create an advertisement about themselves that would hang on the classroom wall. One 14-year-old student's ad was about him being gay.
The teacher asked the student if he wanted his ad put up on the wall. He said yes. School officials then worried the student was a potential target for bullying because of negative comments overheard in the hallway.
The project, with permission from the teen, was hung on the wall with others.
The following day an aide at the school then saw the teen hugging another boy and began hearing negative responses about the teen. Uncomfortable and worried about the possibility of being bullied, The aide informed the assistant principal of the situation, who in turned called the teen's parents in for a meeting
The concern is to make sure the student feels support and that the student feels safe at school.
–Rhonda Bromley, Alpine District
"When there started to be a little bit of a negative response to that, the administration called him in and got involved," Bromley said.
The assistant principal decided it was important to let the boy's parents know about their concerns over bullying.
"In that case, it's absolutely important that we include parents any time there is a safety issue that has to do with the student. It's the responsibility of the school to include the parent," Bromley said.
So, on Dec. 7 the parents were called in for a meeting, which the student did not attend. The teen's father says the school handled the situation exactly the way they should have - and that it was what happened next that really upset his family.
A Facebook page was created with the student's name, saying he was outed by the school to his parents. It also said he had been suspended for being gay. Bromley says the school did not suspend the boy, but his parents decided to keep him home.
The Facebook page has the teen's name, age, and school plastered all over it. It also has his picture and what his father says is a lot of false information about what happened at the school.
The district and school have received quite a bit of anger based on the fact that people had heard and read that the student was "in trouble," which is not true, Bromley said. Also, media from across the country have requested interviews from the district, asking whether the assistant principal's actions were appropriate.
The district defends the way the incident was handled, saying the boy had made his sexual orientation public at school and educators had an obligation to let parents know about potential bullying and safety concerns.
"We need to step in and do whatever it takes to make these students feel safe," Bromley said.
The teen's father says the Facebook page was supposed to be pulled down two days ago, and hasn't.
He told KSL on the phone that he was going to ask the creator one more time to take it down, and if he doesn't he says he is going to get the police involved.
Written with contributions from [Shara Park](<mailto: email@example.com>) and [Randall Jeppesen](<mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org>)