The Superintendent of Schools who oversees the Indiana teacher who told a local news station that gays have no purpose in life is supporting the teacher’s exercise of her “First Amendment rights.” Dr. Mark A. Baker, who is in charge of Sullivan County’s public schools system, the Northeast School Corporation, released a statement noting that special needs teacher Diana Medley “at no time was … representing the Northeast School Corporation,” but indicating she had the right to publicly state her beliefs, presumably without endangering her position.
Baker’s statement also made no mention of any support or special counseling arranged for LGBTQ students or their allies in the wake of Medley’s harsh condemnation.
Medley was attending a meeting at a local church during which parents and students at Sullivan High school were trying to create a “traditional” prom, separate from the school’s official event, that would actually ban gay people on grounds they are not “Christian.”
Medley told a local reporter that “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.”
The WTWO reporter than asked, “So the same goes for gays? Do you think they have a purpose in life?”
Medley, in a response that has outraged the nation, replied, “No I honestly don’t. Sorry, but I don’t. I don’t understand it. A gay person isn’t going to come up and make some change unless it’s to realize that it was a choice and they’re choosing God.”
Dr. Baker’s statement (PDF) in full is below:
I would like to clearly state the Northeast School Corporation has never denied any student the right to attend prom or any other Northeast School Corporation sponsored event due to their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Furthermore, the Northeast School Corporation has never denied any student access to any events sponsored by Northeast School Corporation. This includes sports, plays, musicals and any other extra-curricular activities.
In regards to the story that WTWO aired on February 10, 2013, the Northeast School Corporation employee that was interviewed was expressing her First Amendment rights. The views expressed are not the views of the Northeast School Corporation and/or the Board of Education.
These comments were expressed during a Sunday community meeting at a local church and at no time was she representing the Northeast School Corporation. The teacher was participating in a meeting with her local church congregation.
Diana Medley has every right to believe what she chooses to believe. But her public comments were offensive, inappropriate for an educator, and demonstrate clearly that parents should question the emotional safety and treatment LGBTQ students are receiving from Ms. Medley.
How is any LGBTQ student, (or colleague,) who interacts with Medley, supposed to feel, or operate, or be successful, knowing that she chooses to believe they have no purpose in life?
Dr. Baker has a fiduciary obligation to personally speak with Ms. Medley, and an external professional not paid through Baker’s budget, should be brought in to determine what harm, if any, Medley poses to the students in her school. Additionally, the Northeast School Corporation, as a public entity, has a responsibility to Sullivan County to ensure Medley is not creating a hostile work environment, and thus opening the County to lawsuits.
Further, the obvious question everyone should be asking is, what if Medley had stated Black people, in her estimation, have no purpose in life? Or, Muslims? Or atheists? Or women? All those groups are also stigmatized by biblical beliefs. Surely, the question is valid.
Dr. Baker did not respond immediately to a telephone message left with his office.
Image, top, via mywabashvalley.com
Hat tip for Dr. Baker’s statement to Zack Ford at Think Progress
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