By Anna Peirano
A group of students and parents in Sullivan, Indiana are trying to ban gay students from attending their high school prom. At the Sullivan First Christian Church meeting on Sunday, the congregation decided they wanted a more “traditional” night of dancing.
Officials at Sullivan High School say there’s nothing they can do from a legal standpoint to ban gay students from the prom, which has prompted the anti-gay group to begin fundraising to hold their own dance.
“We don’t agree with it and it’s offensive to us,” said Diana Medley, a special education teacher at North Central High School. “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.”
Medley doesn’t believe anyone is born gay, saying “I believe that it was life circumstances and they chose to be that way; God created everyone equal.”
Ronnie Kroell, anti-bully activist, wrote an open letter to Medley questioning her stance as a Christian. He writes, “From what I watched it is clear that you are a religious woman, but I’m not really sure if I would classify you as a Christian. For to be a Christian one has to be ‘Christ-like.’ Christ throughout the bible welcomes all his Children, he never casts anyone aside nor did he encourage separation.”
The Human Rights Campaign has also released a statement condemning the anti-gay prom.
“It’s disheartening to see some community members make such an explicit attempt at singling out LGBT youth for exclusion from a prom, which is a milestone event for so many young people,” said HRC Vice President for Communications Fred Sainz. “We know that LGBT youth are twice as likely as their straight peers to face bullying, and 92 percent of them hear negative things about being gay. Our teachers and community leaders should be striving to create an environment that is inclusive and welcoming, not one that marginalizes kids and says who they are is wrong.”
“We should be teaching our children to treat others as they wish to be treated,” Sainz continued. “It’s unfortunate that some of the adults in Sullivan are instead sending a message to youth in the community that there is something fundamentally wrong with LGBT people.”
Local pastor Bill Phegley of Carlisle Church supports the traditional prom, saying, “Christians have always been prepared for a fight. Jesus gave us armor for the front, not the back; we’re not running anymore.”
Organizers have said that many students at the school want a traditional prom, but are afraid to come forward. “If we can get a good prom then we can convince more people to come and follow what they believe,” said student Kynon Johnson.
Another local student said, “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.”
In their efforts to fundraise, the group had created a Facebook page called “2013 Sullivan Traditional Prom.” However, since the story broke, the page has been hidden or deleted. Another page created by those against the anti-gay “traditional prom” currently has over 7,000 likes on Facebook.