Principal should have thought before outing student

When a person decides to come out to their family, it can be an emotional and difficult reality to come to terms with – and it becomes even more painful when that person is outed by someone else.

This is why Charlene Nguon, a high school senior from Southern California, is suing her school for revealing her sexual orientation to her parents. Nguon had been reprimanded numerous times by her school principal, Ben Wolf, for public displays of affection with her girlfriend. She was granted the permission by a judge on Nov. 28 to sue her school for invasion of privacy.

“Our family is really happy that the judge agreed Charlene can continue to stand up for her rights,” said Crystal Chhun, Nguon’s mother, in a written statement from an Associated Press story. “The person to decide when and how to talk with our family about this should have been my daughter, not her principal.”

Regardless of whether Wolf meant to out Nguon, there are also arguments of whether his actions were justified or an invasion of privacy. One such point that many against Nguon’s case have argued is that she was already living as though she was out of the closet, publicly displaying her affection for her girlfriend. Others believe that Wolf could have endangered Nguon by revealing her as a lesbian to her parents, since some families of homosexuals are not always as supportive of those coming out.

“While Charlene’s parents have been very supportive, coming out is a very serious decision that should not be taken away from anyone, and disclosure can cause a lot of harm to students who live in an unsupportive home,” said Christine Sun, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union representing Nguon, to the New York Times.

This brings an interesting point of thought behind the revelation of Nguon’s true sexuality. If Wolf knew Nguon was keeping her sexual orientation from her mother, would he have been as inclined to out her? Maybe he did not know that Nguon was publicly living as a lesbian only at school and not at home, and he called her mother just as a measure to get Nguon’s behavior under control.

Nguon’s family is now being forced to deal with a very personal matter in the public eye due to circumstances that may have been averted had Wolf first talked to Nguon and informed her that he was going to call her mother, instead of just assuming that she was out to the world – as we all know what happens when one assumes.