A group of parents, students and teachers in Indiana is trying to ban gays and lesbians from the annual prom.
The campaign for a ‘traditional prom’ at Sullivan High School escalated this week when one of the group’s members made several homophobic comments.
Diana Medley, a special education teacher and member of the group, told WTWO-TV: ‘We don’t agree with it (homosexuality) and it’s offensive to us.
‘Homosexual students come to me with their problems, and I don’t agree with them, but I care about them,’ Medley continued.
‘It’s the same thing with my special needs kids; I think God puts everyone in our lives for a reason.’
When asked whether she believes gay and lesbian people have a ‘purpose’, Medley said: ‘No, I honestly don’t. Sorry, but I don’t … A gay person isn’t going to come up and make some change unless it’s to realize that it was a choice and they’re choosing’.
Medley’s comments, and the anti-gay prom campaign, have sparked national outrage with various groups and individuals calling for reforms and for the teacher’s dismissal.
Change.org has generated more than 18,750 signatures on a petition calling for Medley’s termination. However, Medley has been defended by Northeast School Corporation Superintendent Mark A. Baker who said she was practicing her First Amendment rights to free speech.
Baker wrote in a statement: ‘In regards to the story that WTWO aired on February 10, 2013, the Northeast School Corporation employee that was interviewed was expressing her First Amendment rights. The views expressed are not the views of the Northeast School Corporation and/or the Board of Education.
‘These comments were expressed during a Sunday community meeting at a local church and at no time was she representing the Northeast School Corporation. The teacher was participating in a meeting with her local church congregation.
Baker added: ‘I would like to clearly state the Northeast School Corporation has never denied any student the right to attend prom or any other Northeast School Corporation sponsored event due to their race, gender, or sexual orientation.’
David Springer, Sullivan High School’s principal, confirmed that he will not exclude gay couples from school’s prom to be held on 27 April.
‘All of our students are encouraged to attend. Our prom is open to all of our students’.
‘I don’t know how you can have a dance and exclude certain people,’ Springer added.
This is not the first time gay and lesbian teenage couples attending prom has hit the national spotlight.
Yesterday, Stacy Dawson, a gay teen from Missouri, won the right to take his boyfriend to prom after threatening legal action.