Small town in Indiana facing national heat over prom plans to exclude gays

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Residents in a small Indiana town are reeling after national attention has turned against its decision to host a “traditional” prom, absent gay couples.

The Sullivan community along the Illinois border, known largely for its coal mining and corn festival, is home to about 4,200, The Associated Press reports. It has come under national spotlight after a teacher said she believed homosexuality was a choice and that gays have no purpose in life, AP reported. The teacher, Diana Medley, also supported the idea of a “traditional” prom that banned gay couples, the report continued.

Her comments went viral, and calls are coming from around the nation to have her fired, AP reports. A Change.org petition for her ouster has more than 17,000 signatures — some from as far away as the United Kingdom, according to AP.

Residents are shocked.

“We are conservative around here. That’s just the way of this town,” said one 60-year-old store owner who lives in Sullivan, in the AP report. “In any town in this county, you’ll find four or five churches no matter how small the town. … The Bible is a big belief system here. Everybody has jumped on this little town. To me, there isn’t any need for it.”

School officials began discussing the idea of a traditional prom a month ago, after a student started a petition to demand the inclusion of gays at the grand march of the prom, AP reported. The traditional prom isn’t sanctioned by the school and would be held off-site.

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