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death and life of education

Indiana School Community Calls For Gay-Free Prom As Media Sugarcoats Homophobia

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It’s still a bit early for prom season, but students, parents, and faculty at Sullivan High School in Indiana are already calling for a prom that bans gays from attending. Students believe that a “good prom” would be one where homosexuality is not allowed because “we don’t think it’s right nor should it be accepted.”

In addition to the basic homophobia at root in this story, what is quickly becoming a second story is the media’s attempt to cover up or tone down that anti-gay animus. Unsurprisingly, an invite-only Facebook group where proponents were publicly discussing the gay-free prom has disappeared, but not before plenty of screenshots were captured of the comments being made there. But even WTWO, the NBC affiliate that reported this story Sunday night, made numerous edits to the story since its first publication. For example, at one point, the video was removed from the story and the lede sentence (as was read by the anchor) was changed to soften its tone:

OLD: A team of Valley high schools and parents petition to ban gays from their prom.

NEW: A team of Valley high schoolers and parents rally for a traditional prom that bans gays.

Later Sunday evening, the odious testimony of special education teacher Diana Medley was significantly cut in a way that made her sound less anti-gay, though it has since been restored. Here were her comments to WTWO reporter Paige Preusse about how she believes nobody is born gay, as featured in the original news report that aired:

MEDLEY: I believe it was a choice that she made. I don’t believe that they were born that way. I think that life circumstances made them choose that. I think God made everybody equal.

PREUSSE: When a gay person, you know — do you consider them, maybe, that they have some sort of purpose in life?

MEDLEY: I don’t. I personally don’t, I’m sorry. I don’t understand it. A gay student, or adult, or person is going to come up and make some change unless they realize it was a choice and I’m choosing God.

The newly edited video featured with the article actually includes more comments from Medley than originally aired, but her comments about gays not having a purpose in life are not included in the printed version. Watch a clip of the original broadcast, which includes the anchor’s original lede — now cut from the posted video to reflect the change in the article:

It’s unclear what the fate of the prom is at this point, and school administrators have yet to weigh in. According to a Sullivan senior who contacted blogger Alvin McEwen, the proposed gay-free “traditional prom” would be a separate event not supported by the school, and not supported by all students. Two separate Facebook pages have been started calling for an inclusive prom, and a petition has been started calling for Medley to be disciplined for her offensive remarks suggesting gay people don’t have a purpose in life.

Original author: Zack Ford
Think Progress is a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The Center for American Progress Action Fund is a nonpartisan organization. Through this blog, CAPAF seeks to provide a forum that advances progressive ideas and policies.


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