Hale Center Theatre Orem Apologizes After Woman With Down Syndrome Asked To Leave Over Mask

Dec 2, 2020, 6:00 AM | Updated: 9:44 am

OREM, Utah – When Natalie Sellers and her family made their annual trip to see “A Christmas Carol” at Hale Center Theater Orem Monday night, they all wore masks – all except Lydia, the family’s 20-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome.

“All of us were wearing masks because we knew about the mask mandate, but not Lydia, because she’s not able to wear one,” Sellers said. “She’s cognitively like a 3-year-old.”

Lydia Sellers, 20. (KSL-TV)

Staff at the theater told the family they could put a mask or shield on Lydia, or they would have to leave.

Both sides then agreed the family could rearrange the seating, but that changed at intermission.

Natalie Sellers. (KSL-TV)

“He said, ‘Well if she’s wasn’t going to wear a mask, we shouldn’t have brought her.’ I said, ‘Really, you’re going to kick out a girl with Down syndrome because she’s not going to wear a mask? She doesn’t understand.’ And he said, ‘Yes. You need to leave.’”

Sellers was embarrassed and mad.

“This is not about masks,” she said. “It’s not an anti-mask campaign. All of us were wearing masks but Lydia. It’s about disabilities.”

Tuesday night, Cody Swenson, executive director of Hale Center Theatre Orem, said they made a mistake.

“I’ll admit we were not aware of the exemptions the mask mandate provides,” Swenson said. “We should have made an exception for this young lady. We regret that there was an issue with it.”

Cody Swenson, executive director of Hale Center Theatre Orem. (KSL-TV)

Swenson said it was an honest mistake that won’t happen again.

“We’re still learning and this was something that we were not aware of. And, I would hope other businesses would learn something too because we certainly want to accommodate everyone, especially those with disabilities,” he said.

Sellers said she accepted the apology and hopes others learn not only the policies surrounding masks and the disabled, but she hopes to see greater compassion and understanding.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(Courtesy: Ruby Rose Anaya)...
Michael Locklear

After loud boom across Utah, here’s why you should check your yard for treasure

A Utah astronomer says the meteor that passed through Utah on Saturday might have left some valuable minerals for unexpecting locals.
1 day ago
(National Weather Service Salt Lake City)...
Michael Houck

Soldier Canyon evacuated due to flash floods

Tooele County authorities issued an evacuation order in Soldier Canyon after reports of flash flooding Saturday night.
1 day ago
(South Salt Lake Police)...
Michael Houck

Police: Bicyclist in critical condition after being hit by a pickup truck

A man is in the hospital in critical condition after being hit by a pickup truck Saturday evening on 3400 South 325 West.
1 day ago
Michael Houck

Fire crews battle fire on tribal lands, lighting caused

First responders are fighting a wildfire on Saturday afternoon near Monarch Ridge and Brown's Draw Reservoir. 
1 day ago
Senate Minority Caucus Manager Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, speaks at a press conference outlining...
Associated Press

Utah Democrats call for Sen. Gene Davis to step down

A week and a half after a former intern publicly accused state Sen. Gene Davis of sexual misconduct, the Utah Democratic Party is suspending the lawmaker from all party-related activities.
1 day ago
(Utah Department of Public Safety)...
Cary Schwanitz

One person dead, two injured after crash on I-80 near Tooele

One person died and two others were injured after a crash early Saturday morning in Tooele County.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Hale Center Theatre Orem Apologizes After Woman With Down Syndrome Asked To Leave Over Mask