Starmount High School Principal Danyelle Parker referred questions to Yadkin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Benfield Tuesday morning.
“Actually one of our students asked to bring his friend,” said Benfield. The principal checked with him.
“The school practice had been not to bring outsiders, but I don’t think anybody ever asked about the sexual orientation,” said Benfield. “I called our attorney. He advised that we had to let them come. The school had no choice. The school doesn’t take a position on that. They have to be invited by one of our students. Then they have to fill out the form.”
Then the administrators check with the other school to see if there have been any problems with danger or safety, the superintendent said.
“If they say there are not, we can’t go in and discriminate,” he said. “That’s what the matter is. It’s a matter of we can’t discriminate.”
The policy did not change, according to Benfield.
“As far as I know, we hadn’t been faced with the question,” said Benfield.
“We checked on it, on that request, with our attorney,” he said.
“He looked at it and looked at our policy and the law. It’s just not that much choice in that. It’s unlawful. He said we didn’t have the grounds to turn people down. Our policy in law prohibits unlawful discrimination.
“They basically have a right to do that. We didn’t have a right to turn them down. We didn’t even ask the sexual preference like that. In the past we only had students come and bring people from outside.”
Students could not bring students of the same gender.
“That wasn’t anything to do with sexual orientation. That was with we didn’t want to bring problems in with fights,” he said. “We can’t turn it down. They have a right to come, so that’s what we did.”
The request was made by a parent of a student at Starmount High School. His friend attends another school.
There has been public reaction.
“I’ve gotten some,” he said. “I think they understand about the law part of it. People have their own opinions, you know. I respect their opinions on it, but we have to follow the law.”
What has the reaction been?
“I want to say this. Most of them have been very polite. People who call call with concern about us allowing people to come. I think most of them understood, that I talked to, that we had to do it. They don’t necessarily agree with it, but I think they understand that we can’t break the law.”