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Indio area high school students asked to stop wearing anti-gay symbols 'for now'

A California school district reversed course and now says it will ask students wearing anti-gay symbols to remove them while on campus--at least for now.

About a dozen students at Shadow Hills High School in Indio were asked "for now" to stop wearing stickers showing a rainbow pattern in a circle with a line through it until "a proper course of action" can be determined, according to a statement Monday by the Desert Sands Unified School District.

School administrators, citing free speech rights, had previously said they couldn't ask the students to remove the symbol, which were stuck on some students' identification badges.

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The issue sparked controversy in the district last month, when many students and teachers at the school complained that the emblems made gay and lesbian students feel like they were targeted and unwelcome. 

It was not immediately clear what prompted the school to change its stance. District officials refused to say what reprecussions there would be for students who failed to agree to remove the stickers.

But the "dozen or fewer" students involved had already complied, officials said Tuesday. 

Supt. Gary Rutherford said the district does not tolerate harassment or bullying "of any kind."

District schools educate diverse communities with varying -- and sometimes conflicting -- points of view, he said. 

"The free expression of these views is protected, within certain limits," Rutherford said.

sarah.parvini@latimes.com

For more local and breaking news, follow me on Twitter: @sarahparvini

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