OGDEN -- Christine D'Arco was a high school student with a secret her bullies guessed, but her parents didn't know.
"Suicide was on my mind 24/7," said D'Arco, now a young adult. "I wanted to go."
At 19, D'Arco told her mother she was gay. When her dad learned the truth, he was uneasy, then supportive.
"I couldn't be more proud of the people who brought me into this world, then kept me here," D'Arco said.
D'Arco is afraid other young people won't be so lucky. A 2013 Utah law requires school districts to inform the parents when children are being bullied.
But when parents learn the bullying is because of a real or perceived difference in sexuality, such as children being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, the fear is that some parents may reject their kids. Youths who don't meet their parents standards may end up homeless, or even dead through suicide.
Joe D'Arco is the dad.
"Every time I see a teenage death with no reason given, I wonder if that person was gay," he said. "A lot of parents learn about bullying after the fact. Hopefully, the new law will save lives as opposed to make young people jump off bridges or take too much medication."
The D'Arcos were members of a panel Tuesday discussing the law and the risks it holds for LGBT students. Ogden OUTreach statistics indicate that LGBT teens are bullied two to three times as much as their straight peers. More than a third of LGBT teens have attempted suicide, triple the rate of straight teens. LGBT youths with "high rejecting" families are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than are those with accepting families.
Sgt. Stan Penrod, Syracuse Police Department, has a gay son who was bullied.
"He kind of had his life come ripped out from under him," Penrod said. "On the surface, I love the new law. You can't start running without taking the first step. But we have to have places for these kids to land."
Penrod said rejected LGBT youths need a safe house.
Panelist Heather Ambrose, a family counselor, suggested ongoing counseling for parents and students, but also for religious leaders who can help keep their flock safe.
"This is a societal, systemic problem," she said.
Panelist Annabel Sheinberg, of Planned Parenthood, hopes Utah school districts will set guidelines before calling parents and potentially "outing" students. She would like to see districts practice in-person notification; provide the student with a friend or ally for comfort; use a translator, if needed; and structure the notification to do the least possible harm.
Contact reporter Nancy Van Valkenburg at 801-625-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @S_ENancyVanV.