Feb 11, 2013

Bigotry Is Still A Traditional Value For Some Hoosiers

As if adolescence wasn't enough stress, young adults at this Indiana high school now have to figure out who they are with the whole country watching.  It sadden's me that people can be so blinded by their convictions that they do not even realize how much damage their actions cause.
Some parents, students and clergy in a western Indiana city want a separate high school prom banning gay and lesbian students.
A group of supporters met Sunday at the Sullivan First Christian Church, in Sullivan County, to plan a separate "traditional prom" for Sullivan High School students that would prohibit gays from attending, Group in Sullivan, Indiana want 'traditional high school prom' banning gay, lesbian students
Initially, this story appeared to be a school issue due to some quotes by a teacher from a nearby district that supports the motion.  As it turns out it is not a school issue.  The people involved want to have their own prom.  As disgusted as I am by their actions, so long as it is a private/non-school function then it is perfectly legitimate   However, the approach by the teacher involved is drawing a lot of attention to the school itself.

"I believe that it was life circumstances and they chose to be that way; God created everyone equal," said special ed teacher Diana Medley. "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."  Students, Teacher at Indiana High School Demand 'Traditional Prom' Without Gay Kids
When asked if she thinks gays have a purpose in life, Medley said, "No I honestly don't. Sorry, but I don't. I don't understand it." Group in Sullivan, Indiana want 'traditional high school prom' banning gay, lesbian students
We are all welcome to have our own opinions and personal convictions.  We are all welcome to act on those convictions so long as they are not interfering with the rights of others.  However, this particular individual appears to have made the choice to speak as a teacher and not as a citizen of the community.  This woman should not be held accountable for her opinions, but rather for her apparent inability to realize that she is a public figure and must be aware of how she presents her opinions when speaking publicly.  How can you work with children and believe that some of them do not have a purpose in life?

She is welcome to think that, but now that she has chosen to say it publicly, what child is going to go to her for help?  Confused and conflicted teens who are struggling with their sexuality are fully aware that this person thinks they are worthless.  What other prejudices lie beneath the surface?  I know that I would be uncomfortable going to a person who has openly marginalized a portion of our population, either as a student or a co-worker.

Have we not seen enough violence and teen suicides to realize that young adults need a safe haven?  For many such students that place is school.  

I speak openly on my blog about my profession on a regular basis, but I choose my words carefully.  I realize that if I say the wrong thing, or am simply misunderstood, that it could have effects far beyond just sharing my opinion on a topic.  I would never marginalize anyone, willfully, and I never would want any of my students to feel as if they have no purpose in life.

Rest assured, fellow Hoosiers, the district is handling itself properly and professionally:

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." 
Group in Sullivan, Indiana want 'traditional high school prom' banning gay, lesbian students

 A final comment on the quote below:
Those who met yesterday at the Sullivan First Christian Church to discuss the possibility of holding a "separate but equal" prom say others agree with their idea but are reluctant to speak up. Students, Teacher at Indiana High School Demand 'Traditional Prom' Without Gay Kids
After the turbulent history of individual rights repeatedly fought for in this country and somebody had the audacity to use the phrase "separate but equal."  I still can't believe what I've read.  It is as if the era of desegregation never happened or perhaps it is more telling to what is meant by "traditional." 

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