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Planned ‘traditional’ prom barring gays raises questions about tolerance in small Indiana city

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Associated Press
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February 15, 2013

A small Indiana community best known for its parks and corn festival has become the center of a national discussion about intolerance over a group’s plans to host a “traditional” prom that bans gay students. Residents and officials in Sullivan, a city of about 4,200 near the Illinois border, are scrambling to escape the uncomfortable spotlight cast when a teacher supporting the “traditional” prom for Sullivan High School said she believes people choose to be gay and that gays have no purpose in life. “I just ... I don’t understand it,” Diana Medley, referring to gays, told Terre Haute television station WTWO. The comments by Medley, a special education teacher in a neighboring school district, have gone viral and sparked online campaigns to have her fired. A petition on Change.org calling for her dismissal had generated more than 17,500 signatures from as far away as the United Kingdom as of Thursday, and a Facebook page supporting a prom that includes all students had more than 27,000 likes. The fallout has surprised many residents, who say the issue roiling the community in an area known for coal mining and attractive parks is being blown out of proportion.