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Gay-Exclusive High School Prom Continues to Disrupt Indiana Town

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Feb 13, 2013

Some students from a high school in Indiana, who called for a prom that would exclude LGBT students from attending, are now are backtracking on their campaign, NBC News reports.

At least one student from Sullivan High School in Sullivan, Ind., has changed his tune about the school holding a separate "traditional prom" that would prohibit gay students from coming to the dance. Additionally, the pastor of Sullivan First Christian Church, the location where the group got together to campaign for the controversial prom, said the church doesn't support the group's campaign.

"Our church has no involvement in this whatsoever. It's a community thing where people have met here," Dale Wise, senior minister at the church, told Indiana's NBC affiliate station WTWO.

The high school's principal, David Springer, told NBC's Indianapolis station, WTHR, that all students are allowed to go to the prom - gay or straight.

"Anybody can go to the prom," Springer said. "Of course, a girl could go out with another girl if they didn't have a date or that was their choice."

A student at the high school who originally said, "the Bible says for a man to love another woman," now tells WTHR that he believes LGBT students should come to the official prom, which is scheduled for April 27.

"As long as they aren't sitting there and kissing on the dance floor and grinding on each other, stuff like that, I don't have a problem with that," he said. "I don't see what's wrong with it. Prom is for everybody. It's a high school experience."

On Feb. 11, the group made national headlines after students their parents and even a teacher from another school were vocal about their version of the prom.

"If we can get a good prom then we can convince more people to come and follow what they believe," Kynon Johnson, a student, told the news station. Other students claim that some of their peers feel the same way but are too afraid to voice their opinion.

"We want to make the public see that we love the homosexuals, but we don't think it's right nor should it be accepted," Bonnie McCammon, a student, said.

The Atlantic pointed out that the original controversy did not originate with school officials, but with a small group of parents and a special-ed teacher at another school.

’Anybody can go to the prom. Of course, a girl could go out with another girl if they didn’t have a date or that was their choice.’

Diana Medley, a special education teacher from North Central Junior/Senior High School, continued her sentiments that homosexuality was unnatural and immoral.

"I believe that it was life circumstances and they chose to be that way; God created everyone equal," Medley told WTWO. "Homosexual students come to me with their problems, and I don't agree with them, but I care about them. It's the same thing with my special needs kids, I think God puts everyone in our lives for a reason." She went on to say that she doesn't believe members of the LGBT community have a purpose in life.

"No I honestly don't. Sorry, but I don't. I don't understand it," Medley said. "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 God."

Among the several people who have blasted Medley for her remarks was Dan Savage, the creator of the "It Gets Better" campaign, who called for Medley to be fired. He also linked to a petition on Change.org, which asks for the school to dismiss Medley. Over 9,2000 people have signed the online document.

The New Civil Rights Movement wrote that Medley "should be placed on immediate suspension and steps should be taken to ensure she receives the counseling she needs before she is allowed back into a classroom. She has no business teaching or counseling any student right now if she places her personal religious beliefs above her job and fiduciary responsibilities to children, and if believes that gay people have no purpose in life."

Savage published a note from someone who claimed to be a student at Sullivan High. "I absolutely hate how my town is getting called Anti-Gay Bigots because a few 'Christians; are planning a separate prom!" the student wrote. "Not all of Sullivan is like that I can damn well guarantee it."

A Facebook page, "Support the Sullivan High School Prom for All Students," now has 24,000 likes -- and counting. Not only that, but another Facebook page, "Pride vs. Prejudice: Sullivan Solidarity Ball 2013," has launched with the intention of promoting an inclusive prom in the nearby city of Terre Haute, Ind.

Despite the protests and negative national publicity, some in Sullivan are continuing to back yet another alternative prom, this one excluding LGBT students. Rev. Gary Larimer of Sullivan Wesleyan Church told the (Terre Haute) Tribune Star, plans continue for the so-called traditional prom, one that bars gay/lesbian couples.

"It's something where we can give the kids a choice," he told the paper. "A lot of kids are upset with this issue, We want to let the kids know the church is behind you. We're doing this out of love. We have to stand up for some of these issues or it will continue to get worse and worse and worse."

The gay/lesbian lifestyle "to me is a choice. You're not born that way," Larimer told the Tribune Star. "It's an abomination in the Bible, which tells you it's wrong, blatantly wrong. Cities have been destroyed because of this type of lifestyle."

Larimer noted that several churches were planning to offer classes for gay and lesbian couples. "We want to let them know there are places they can go if they need help," Larimer said.

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