A group of parents and students at an Indiana high school is leading an anti-gay initiative to create a separate prom that bans gay students. This idea would send a terrible message to LGBT students, families and allies in Sullivan, Indiana. GLAAD is speaking with local and state organizers about how to respond in a way that tells those families and individuals that they are valued members of the community. This task is made far more difficult by one-sided reporting in the media.
WTWO, a local NBC affiliate reporting the story, only spoke with people who attended a Sunday church meeting held by the discriminatory group of Sullivan High School. Among those interviewed were two students, a local pastor, and special education teacher Diane Medley, all of whom supported the anti-gay prom.
Medley made several offensive comments about gay people, which Think Progress notes have prompted community members to start a Change.org petition calling for Medley to be disciplined by the Northeast School Corporation. The petition has received more than 1,500 signatures, and signers have expressed concern and disappointment over Medley's comments and the hurt they inflict upon LGBT youth. Two Facebook pages have also been created in support of an LGBT-inclusive prom.
It is crucial that media outlets continuing to report on this story highlight the facts, rather than the biased opinions. The anti-gay views of Medley and others featured by local media come without any qualifications to speak on LGBT issues, and including these voices without mentioning the number of LGBT youth who face physical and verbal abuse everyday because of who they are is irresponsible. Journalists should also be speaking to the number of students and community members who do support an LGBT-inclusive prom.