Teacher under fire over plan to create separate prom for gay students

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Petitions have been posted online, requesting disciplinary action against an Indiana teacher because she wants to have separate proms for gay and straight students.

Diana Medley is a resource teacher at North Central Junior-Senior High School in Farmersburg, Ind. She recently attended a meeting at First Christian Church. The meeting was not a school function nor was it affiliated with the church. Several parents and students met at the church because they wanted to figure out how to separate Sullivan High School’s prom into two proms. They wanted to create a prom for straight students and a different prom for gay students.

During an interview with a local television station Medley said, “(my) kids come to me because of their sexual preference and they know I don’t agree with it, but I care about you and the same thing for special needs. You know, God puts those people in our life for different reasons.”

The reporter asked Medley, “yYu know, if a gay person…. Do you consider them, maybe, they have some sort of purpose in life? ”

Medley responded, “I don’t. I personally don’t. I’m sorry. I just, I don’t understand it. A gay student or adult or person isn’t going to come up and make some change unless it’s because they realize, you know what it was a choice and I’m choosing God.”

Since the story aired, it has received national attention. People are asking for disciplinary action –even termination- for Medley.

Indiana Youth Group Executive Director Mary Byrne believes Medley’s words are destructive.

“It’s  a gray (area) when someone speaks out of turn like that, but again, if you are in a position of authority you can’t make flippant remarks, even if you think it’s correct,” Byrne said.

Byrne said her words could have an impact on students and could make issues like bullying worse.

“If your teachers are saying these things about this group of young people, then that kind of gives the other kids permission to do something about that,” Byrne said.

The Indiana State Teachers Association encourages teachers to watch what they say, even if they are not on school property.

“We’re all entitled to our personal opinions and our personal views and we have that First Amendment Right –freedom of speech, but teachers are looked at different(ly) and so we do have to be very, very careful with what we say and how we say it,” said Teresa Meredith, ISTA Vice President.

Meredith said sometimes teachers are held to higher standards.

“Your words can either build someone up or they can really hurt someone and so everything we should say -not just teachers, but everyone in society should really think about what they say through that filter,” Medley said.

Fox59 contacted Medley. She did not respond. Fox59 also contacted the Northeast School Corporation superintendent. Dr. Mark Baker did not return emails and phone calls.

Previously, the Northeast School districted posted the following response on its site:

“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. Furthermore, the Northeast School Corporation has never denied any student access to any events sponsored by Northeast School Corporation. This includes sports, plays, musicals and any other extra-curricular activities.

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.

The Northeast School Corporation is a public school where all students have equal rights and access to all programs”.

Sullivan High School’s prom is scheduled at the end of April. It is open to everyone.

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