A Utah school has recently sparked controversy with their sixth-grade Valentine's dance policy.


The event, which is an optional but encouraged affair for pupils, has traditionally been centred around inclusion and friendliness.


With those themes in mind, teachers have usually told their students to accept when a classmate asks them to dance.


However, parents this year were infuriated when they heard that students were told they must say yes to a fellow pupil, even if the child in question does not want to dance with the particular partner.


Concerned mum Natalie Richard said she was completely taken aback when her daughter informed her of the dance's protocol.



"Psychologically, my daughter keeps coming to me and saying I can’t say 'no' to a boy. That’s the message kids are getting," she told Fox 13.


"Sends a bad message to girls that girls have to say 'yes'; sends a bad message to boys that girls can’t say 'no,'" the mum pointed out.


Other parents who felt the same said that it teaches children a terrible lesson in regards to consent. Natalie brought up the issue with the school's principal.


"He basically just said they’ve had this dance set up this way for a long time and they’ve never had any concern before," she said.


Lane Findlay, a community relations specialist for the Weber School District, told Fox 13 of the policy, "We want to promote kindness, and so we want you to say yes when someone asks you to dance."



In response to the backlash, the event's protocol has changed.


At the dance, children are asked to fill out dance cards with names of fellow students they'd like to be their partners. 


Pupils are not allowed to dance with the same person more than once, according to a statement issued by the school district, and half of the partner selections are girls' choices and half are boys'.


Now, children can say no if they would not like to dance with a certain classmate, CNN reports.


The statement issued reads, "In the best interest of our students, we are re-examining the procedures surrounding these dances and will make any necessary changes to promote a positive environment where all students feel included and empowered in their choices."


"We have advised our schools to eliminate any sort of language in the instructions surrounding these dances that would suggest a student must dance with another student."