Opponents denounce call for anti-gay prom in Ind.

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm •  Published: February 15, 2013
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Aaron Gettinger, a 20-year-old Stanford University student who graduated from Sullivan High in 2011, said he isn't surprised by the push for a "traditional" prom that would ban gay students. He said he was bullied daily because he is gay and encountered viewpoints similar to those espoused by Medley.

"It's just the way that it is," he said. "It's part of a way of thinking that the rest of the country needs to know still exists and goes on."

Those behind the push for a "traditional" prom declined to comment, and it's unclear whether the event will still happen.

School officials and the minister of a church where planners met Sunday have worked to distance themselves from the flap.

Dale Wise, the church's senior minister at Sullivan First Christian Church, said his church turned off its fax machine and took its website offline Tuesday because both were the target of hate mail and pornographic messages.

Wise said the planning group met at the church because it allows community meetings to take place there, but he said the church "had no affiliation whatsoever" with the "traditional" prom effort.

Springer said his staff has been inundated with calls and emails about Medley, who does not work in Sullivan's Southwest School Corp. district. She teaches in the Northeast School Corp., a neighboring district.

Neither Medley nor Northeast officials returned calls seeking comment. The district issued a statement earlier this week saying Medley was "expressing her First Amendment rights" to free speech and that "the views expressed are not the views of the Northeast School Corporation and/or the Board of Education."

Northeast's superintendent, Mark A. Baker, said in another statement issued Thursday that he "cannot emphasize enough the extent to which we are dismayed and disappointed with the statements made by a school employee."

Sullivan isn't alone in its struggles over how to handle same-sex couples at proms. A small southeast Missouri school district is facing a threat of legal action over a policy barring same-sex couples from attending prom together.

The Southern Poverty Law Center on Thursday accused the Scott County Central School District in Sikeston of discrimination and gave the district until Feb. 25 to revise the school dance policy or face a potential lawsuit.

Sullivan High School freshman Te'Airra Walters, 15, said it shouldn't be a big deal for a same-sex couple to attend prom together. She said she doesn't like the negative attention the controversy has attracted.

"People from other schools around here are saying Sullivan is trashy," she said. "I think it's pretty much ridiculous."

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Associated Press writer Charles Wilson in Indianapolis contributed to this story.

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