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.
In an update, Savage notes that many Sullivan students and the school administration have since voiced their support for the inclusive prom.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.