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Utah school bars gay couple from dance, citing need for parental consent

Utah school bars gay couple from dance, citing need for parental consent

A school principal refused to let two gay 17-year-old boys attend a high school dance as a couple without permission from their parents. Tom Worlton, the principal at Copper Hills High School in West Jordan, Utah, said he was concerned for the safety of the boys, who might be taunted by others. "There's a danger, and I believe the parents ought to be aware of that," Worlton said Wednesday. "If parents were OK with it, I'd make no judgment." Jason Atwood, a 17-year-old senior, said Worlton's condition smacked of discrimination and kept him and his boyfriend from attending the dance. Atwood's father wouldn't sign a permission slip for fear that it would absolve the school of responsibility if anything were to happen to his son. Dani Eyer, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, said state law requires schools to promote tolerance and protect students from harassment. "Would you require a note for a disabled student to go to a dance?" she asked. Worlton said he rejected the allegation of discrimination, adding, "Unless someone can convince me that it's an unfair policy, we'll live with it." Supporters and members of the school's Gay-Straight Alliance, led by Atwood, held all-day protests this week just off school property. Reactions from passersby ran from support to obscenities, snowballs, and glares. Atwood sported a bump on his head from a soda can he said was thrown from a car Wednesday, a reminder of what he's up against. "It's something no student should experience, especially in a place where they're supposed to be learning," he said. "But it's something I've been dealing with since I was 13, and I've been raised to stand up for what I believe in."

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