NESC looks to distance itself from Medley's comments
Superintendent Mark Baker says he’s “dismayed and disappointed” with the comments made this week by one of his corporation’s teachers about homosexuals.
In a statement released Thursday night, Baker said North Central Junior/Senior High School resource teacher Diana Medley’s statements to a local television news station were “insensitive, unnecessary and hurtful.”
“Please understand that while we do not support the employee’s opinions, we do recognize that each employee has some protection to express his or her opinion,” Baker said. “The school also acknowledges speech protections to express opinions opposite of this employee’s.”
Medley made the controversial comments to Farmersburg-based WTWO as she was attending a planning meeting for a local group organizing a prom for straight-couples only. The group decided to create an alternative formal after learning the one at Sullivan High School might include same-sex couples.
During the interview, Medley said she believes gay people weren’t “born that way” and that it’s a “choice” they make. She also, when asked by a reporter if she believed gays have purpose in life, responded, “I don’t. I personally don’t. I’m sorry. I just ... I don’t understand it.”
Those comments set off a firestorm of media coverage, where Medley’s words and face were pasted all over the Internet and blogsites. The story was covered on prominent national news organizations, talk shows and by syndicated columnists. It also led millions to air their disgust with Medley’s words on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.
NESC has been inundated with emails and phone calls asking for disciplinary action against Medley. There are at least two Facebook groups called “Fire Diana Medley,” and a petition on change.org that asks she be disciplined or terminated has received more than 18,000 signatures.
“We are saddened and share the concerns of those who disagree with the employee’s opinions,” Baker said in the statement. “As we endeavor to educate our wonderful students, we appreciate the encouragement we are receiving from members of our community who support our efforts to work through these very unfortunate circumstances.”
The Times has been unable to reach Medley for comment. Also, the “traditional” couples-only prom group’s Facebook page has been disabled since Sunday. But, before it went down, a group member reported the alternative prom would be April 27 — the same day as the SHS prom — at the Downtown Gym in Sullivan.
Below is Baker’s entire statement.
The Northeast School Corporation is a public school where all students have equal rights and access to all programs.
I cannot emphasize enough the extent to which we are dismayed and disappointed with the statements made by a school employee who was expressing her own opinions as she attended a meeting outside of school or a school activity.
Her comments most definitely do not reflect our schools’ views or opinions and this employee was most certainly not representing our schools.
Please understand that while we do not support the employee’s opinions, we do recognize that each employee has some protection to express his or her opinion. The school also acknowledges speech protections to express opinions opposite of this employee’s. While personal opinions may be protected to some degree, it does not take away from the fact that the opinions this employee expressed are insensitive, unnecessary and hurtful.
We are saddened and share the concerns of those who disagree with the employee’s opinions.
As we endeavor to educate our wonderful students, we appreciate the encouragement we are receiving from members of our community who support our efforts to work through these very unfortunate circumstances.
Please understand we also are working diligently to treat everyone with dignity and respect and are working conscientiously to communicate with all involved. Our first priority is to ensure that our students feel welcome and safe in our schools.