We still have a lot of work ahead of us, those who support LGBT equality. I’m certainly not happy to read this story of a “traditional” prom, meaning “no homosexuals allowed.” But if reminders are needed that for all the progress toward equality, we aren’t “there” yet, this is one such. Note, however, that this “traditional” prom planning is not the official school position, nor that of all the students, or all the people of the town, Sullivan, Indiana.
The The Indy Channel reports:
A group of supporters met Sunday at the Sullivan First Christian Church … to plan a separate “˜traditional prom’ for Sullivan High School students that would prohibit gays from attending, WTWO reported … .
Among the supporters is Diana Medley, a special education teacher at nearby North Central Jr./Sr. High School … who told WTWO she doesn’t believe anyone is born gay.
“˜We don’t agree with it (homosexuality), and it’s offensive to us,’ she said. “˜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.’
If that’s true, then I guess God put Medley in the lives of the LGBT students and their families, and the students and adults who support them, for a reason, too. Maybe to encourage them to think carefully about the meaning of equality and even love. Medley was asked if “gays have a purpose in life.”
“˜No I honestly don’t. Sorry, but I don’t. I don’t understand it.’
This seems to me to be one of those not-at-all “sorry” statements. Then she adds that she doesn’t “understand” what she disagrees with.
Here’s the video of the original broadcast story at Terre Haute TV station WTWO:
The Advocate covers the story with Indiana Town Launches Gay Panic Over Prom. The story does actually make a distinction between the “town” and the group of people from the town (emphasis added):
A group of students, parents, and a teacher in Sullivan, Ind., say they want a separate high school prom that would bar gay students from attending.
Members of the group and their supporters met Sunday at the Sullivan First Christian Church to discuss plans of a separate “˜traditional’ prom, Terre Haute TV station WTWO reported.
“˜If we can get a good prom then we can convince more people to come and follow what they believe,’ said Sullivan High School student Kynon Johnson.
“˜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,’ said Bonnie McCammon, another student.
How, I wonder, is it less about “follow(ing) what (you) believe” to attend the “all are welcome” prom than the “no homosexuals allowed” prom? And the “we love the homosexuals, but …” argument still doesn’t work.
Back to The Advocate, and an important piece of the story:
Southwest School Corporation Superintendent Chris Stitzle said the school plans to go on with its prom April 27 as planned.
“˜We’re planning on having our prom just like we always have. We encourage all students to participate,’ he said. “˜We treat all students with respect and dignity.’
I’ve read several critiques of the coverage provided by WTWO. Zack Ford, at Think Progress, for example, has a piece up, “Indiana School Community Calls For Gay-Free Prom As Media Sugarcoats Homophobia.”
At Pam’s Houseblend, Alvin McEwen includes:
The sad part is that Davis (interviewed in the video) was the only person who spoke out against this awful idea. The television report … did not seek out anyone who was lgbt or an lgbt ally.
McEwen includes a very important bit of information. (emphasis added)
… according to one student who has written me, those who want to set up a “traditional prom” don’t speak for the school or the community:
I am a senior at Sullivan High School. Just wanted to let all of you know it is NOT the school that is banning same sex couples!! I hate how the school is being made out as the bad guy, that is not the case at all. … Sullivan High School is ACCEPTING the same sex couples and the staff at SHS is for the same sex couples going and so are the majority of student and people in the community!!!! BOLD … It appalls me that some people in my community cant accept others for who they are, but like i said not all of us are that narrow minded so please stop saying all of Sullivan County is like that because we aren’t. My date (who is a guy) and I are attending the school prom that is ALLOWING same sex couples to go!
Most every year there are prom stories related to whether “the homosexuals” are welcomed. Usually it’s the “everyone is welcome” group who has to put together an alternative event. It’s still sad that a “traditional” alternative is deemed necessary by the “we love the homosexuals, but” group, but at least this time that’s the group who has to put together.
(Rainbow People via FB LGBT News Wall Photos)