School & District Management

Special Ed. Teacher’s Anti-Gay Remarks Spark Firestorm

By Liana Loewus — February 12, 2013 1 min read
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An Indiana special education teacher, who is part of a Christian group that wanted to ban LGBT students from the high school prom, told a local television station that she doesn’t believe gays have a “purpose in life.”

The story was sort of a non-starter until her controversial comment. According to WTHR, there was confusion at Sullivan High School in Sullivan, Ind., about whether same-sex couples could walk together in a march before prom. The principal, David Springer, cleared things up by saying that “anybody can go to the prom.” In reaction, a small group of parents and community members met at a local church to discuss putting together a separate, gay-free dance. Paige Preusse, a reporter from WTWO-TV, had the following interaction with special educator Diane Medley, who teaches in a nearby district and attended the church gathering:

Medley: "I have 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. Preusse: "So for a gay person, do you think they have some sort of purpose in life?" Medley: "I don't. I personally don't, I'm sorry. I just, I don't understand it. ... A gay student or adult isn't going to come up and make some change unless they realize, you know, it was a choice and I'm choosing God.'"

Author and outspoken gay-rights advocate Dan Savage picked up on the news clip and blasted Medley:

Let's pause here to grieve for all the special education students in Sullivan, Indiana. Students with learning disabilities have it hard enough without getting stuck with a mentally challenged special ed teacher. You know [who] else has it hard enough? I imagine queer kids growing up in Sullivan, Indiana, population 4,249, have it hard enough without having to watch [redacted] like this on the evening news.

Savage also called for Medley to be fired. Other commentators have sounded off on Medley’s remarks as well.

In an update, Savage notes that many Sullivan students and the school administration have since voiced their support for the inclusive prom.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.