A group of Sullivan, Ind., residents gathered Sunday at a local church to discuss plans to create a “traditional” high school prom, where LGBT students would not be allowed. One of the group members whose words struck a particular chord was Diana Medley, a special education teacher, who said she doesn’t believe anyone is born gay.
“I believe that it was life circumstances and they chose to be that way; God created everyone equal,” Medley said. “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 chosing God.”
Below is an open letter to Medley from Ronnie Kroell of Friend Movement:
Dear Ms. Medley,
I just came upon your interview regarding the creation of a “Traditional Prom” at Sullivan High School. Unlike many who may contact you to be angry or share their excitement over your position, I’m contacting you because I would like to have an open dialogue to better understand your position.
From what I watched it is clear that you are a religious woman, but I’m not really sure if I would classify you as a Christian. For to be a Christian one has to be “Christlike.” Christ throughout the Bible welcomes all his children, he never casts anyone aside, nor did he encourage separation.
As an American, I believe in “united we stand.” We are a country filled with beautiful people from all walks of life — that is what makes us special. We celebrate that diversity and afford equal treatment under the law so that all people are protected and can find happiness.
As a man that happens to be gay, I also can tell you that being gay is not a choice. It’s as natural as having brown eyes or blond hair; you are born this way. Do you remember the time that you decided to be heterosexual? Probably not, because you didn’t need anyone to tell you who to be sexually attracted to. It was a natural instinct.
My work is in antibullying and encouraging people to celebrate what they have in common while celebrating their diversity. I promote education, understanding, and respect. Your interview, in my opinion, works against that progress we have made. As a teacher, your job is to promote love, kindness, and to teach tolerance. Your interview only further promotes a position of discrimination and “separate but equal” which just does not work in this country.
While you have the right to your opinion, which is a freedom that we all have thanks to living in the United States, I have to respectfully disagree with you. LGBT men and women are faced with the same challenges that the human experience brings our heterosexual brothers and sisters. We work hard, we contribute to our communities, and we do our very best to live and let live. It is your position, that would leverage the Bible to promote hate rather than love, that causes young men and women all over the world to take their own lives — or worse, it encourages others around them to bring them physical and mental harm.
Being that you work with special needs children, you of all people should know the harmful affects of bullying. It makes me sad that you cannot see the similarities simply because the person being bullied or separated from the rest of the community happens to fall in love with or be attracted to the same sex. This is nothing unique to the human species; if you took a moment to understand nature, you would see that it exists in all of the animal kingdom.
We are all a part of God … we are made in his image … and we all have a purpose. He did not send us to this earth and give us the gift of life so that we can waste our time judging others around us. He gave us life so that we may truly know the love that he has for us and so that we may learn to share that love with all those that we meet.
I wish you kindness and love in your life, and I hope that when you speak publicly you realize that your words are very powerful; they have the power to cheer folks up and they also have the power to bring someone into a horrible state of depression — depression that could ultimately be fatal if they believe what you say to be the only truth.
I have taken a vow to protect all of our youth from being bullied, no matter who they are. Bullying does not discriminate. It needs to be stopped so that young people never have to feel ashamed of who they are or feel that life is not worth living. I hope that you too will join me in these efforts.
You have the right to your opinion, Ms. Medley, but you also have to know that as a public figure and teacher, you have a more important responsibility — that is the safety and well-being of the children you teach. Being exposed to gay people in school or at prom is not a life-threatening event; in fact, it is an enlightening one that teaches respect and love for all of God’s children.
Have an amazing 2013,
RONNIE KROELL and Elliot London created Friend Movement to help show positive antibullying images through art and media: images of people of all ages, race, gender, sexuality, and spirituality that invoke inspiration, conversation. Friend Movement inspires people to prevent bullying by enabling them to be a better friend. To show support for an inclusive prom, please visit Support the Sullivan High School Prom for All Students on Facebook.
(Op-ed originally featured on Advocate.com)