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At Western Middle School, the a huge battle occurred to bar Ryan White, poster child of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, from attending classes with other students. School officials, parents, and teachers worked together to sign a petition to keep him out of he building. They even raised money to prohibit his coming to class. Upset, Ryan Whites' family took the battle to court, where months later he was permitted to return to class.


Not much was known about HIV in the early 1980s. Very few people had contracted it, and researchers had not studied it well enough to know anything about it. Because of this, people were fearful of it. Most of the known cases had come from people of the gay community since homosexuals were one of the first people to contract it. However, this accusation was disrupted after more research suggested that anyone could get it, not just gay people.

Due to the immense fear of contracting it at the time, Ryan White was banned from school. The school, along with student's families, thought White could transmit the disease to other students. He attended school for his eighth grade year, but had to use separate facilities than other students. Angrily, the teachers and citizens of Howard County took it to court to ban him from attending their schools, but the court ruled the schools must permit him inside. Relentlessly, the people of Howard County grew prejudice of the Whites and pushed them out of town to Acadia. People shouted at Ryan, calling him a queer and throwing bricks through his family's window.

Reichard, Ruth . The Challenges of Recent History: Using the Ryan White Project Oral Histories. Indiana Magazine of History. June 1st 2016. 108 - 115.