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First Amendment? Superintendent Takes No Action, Supports Teacher Who Said Gays Have No Purpose

by David Badash on February 13, 2013

in Bigotry Watch,Discrimination,Education,News,Religion

Post image for First Amendment? Superintendent Takes No Action, Supports Teacher Who Said Gays Have No Purpose

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.

READ: Teacher Says Gays Have No Purpose In Life, Wants LGBT Kids Banned From Prom

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.”

READ: Dan Savage: Teacher Who Said Gays Have No Purpose In Life ‘Should Be Fired’

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.”

LOOK: Indiana Teacher Has Message For Teacher Who Claims Gays Have No Purpose In Life

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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{ 16 comments }

colonelkira February 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Why do you insist on infringing on other peoples right to free speech whilst arguing against a person quoting right to free speech?

You are a very real dabger to our community. This website hurts more LGBTQ people than our enemies ever could.

I hope someone stops you sooner rather than later.

Robroberts2013 February 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm

When your "free speech" includes saying an entire group of human beings has no purpose and should be shunned, your speech is hate speech. You have the right to hate speech, but you have NO right to escape the consequences of what you say and believe — up to and including losing your job.

colonelkira February 13, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Wrong.

Robroberts2013 February 14, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Sorry colonelkira, it seems nobody around here agrees with you. Why don't you find another website to troll where you will be more appreciated?

Scott_Rose February 14, 2013 at 2:48 pm

At the link below is a detailed document explaining legal precedents for firing teachers in Indiana. Note that a teacher may be fired for immorality, and that immorality may be a course of conduct that is a bad example to the youth whose ideals a teacher is supposed to foster and elevate: http://www.iasp.org/iasp/emmert_HO_110703.pdf

Siddigfan February 15, 2013 at 9:20 am

Wow! I don't think the original 'Colonel Kira' from Star Trek Deep Space Nine would be too thrilled with your comment, seeing as she came from a people oppressed for decades and forced into slavery.! BTW, I'm an LGBTQ str8 ally with a gay trans son and all the LGBTQ folks I know love this news source and hope it continues for a very very long time.

lauraleeauthor February 13, 2013 at 1:10 pm

One would have to know what the purpose of life is to be able to judge how others fit into that plan. That is a pretty divine level of knowledge. I am impressed. It is interesting to try to reconcile a belief in a God that gives purpose and meaning to everything in life and who created it with purpose (this is what I think Christians believe) and the idea that there could be anyone or anything here that does not have a purpose.

That said, someone asked her a question on her opinion and she gave it. I don't think she should be fired for having an opinion I disagree with.

usorthem3 February 13, 2013 at 8:59 pm

I do not recognize your god as supreme ruler of the universe therefore i don't recognize Christian sin. Per the 1st Amendment of the USA, Christianity is NOT the chosen religion of this country, never has been and never will as much as Dominionists such as yourself want to make it a Christian ONLY theocracy. She endangers any student she works with if she bases the job she is paid for by the STATE (not the church) on her religious beliefs above the responsibilities of her position.

Siddigfan February 15, 2013 at 9:32 am

@lauraleeauthor: I don't think the problem is so much that she stated her religious convictions but that she went out of her way to discuss how those beliefs affected her interactions with her students. She chose to bring that up and now, she should have to face the consequences of implying that, while students come to her for help, many special ed, she doesn't believe they should be treated equally, ie. her 'special prom', and she believes their lives have 'no purpose.' It's totally understandable that parents would be concerned. There are many so-called 'Christians' who think it's proper Christian morality to imprison and even execute gays. There are many of these folks who think that Black people, or Muslim people, or Jews, or Catholics, 'have no purpose.' Just how far are we going to go in letting her express her 'beliefs' before we decide that it just may affect the way she behaves on the job, even if it's only subconsciously? Yes, she's entitled to freedom of speech, but with every freedom comes a responsibility and the possibility of consequences.

BeerandOnion February 13, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Free speech is scared.
A person who's job is to help children who in her “off-time” tells children they are of no value is a real danger.
To silence anyone, people, websites, children because we, I, you disagree with them is a danger.
As long as there is speech we can work towards the goal of equality. But no one is to be silenced. That includes bigots, websites, people who react before thinking. No is to be denied the opportunity to speak and be heard.

stemke2010 February 13, 2013 at 2:37 pm

There is a story playing out here in Cincinnati about a Catholic school assistant principal, who by all accounts is living a life that other Christians would do well to emulate. At the end of last month, he posted about his support for marriage equality on his personal blog (mikemoroski.com). The archdiocese of Cincinnati gave him an ultimatum. Either take down the post and sign documents affirming his support for the church's position, or resign. He did neither. Two days ago he was fired.

Now, here in this case in Indiana, a woman who works for a public school, who by all accounts seems unable or unwilling to separate her religious beliefs from her secular duties, apparently is free to write off a significant number of her students as having no purpose in life due to their orientation. Pro-gay folks are constantly accused of being intolerant by the radical religious right. Tell me. Which side showed tolerance in these two cases?

Huntercgo February 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm

As a public school employee, you give up a certain amount of your "private person" status. And if you talk to a reporter, you do so at your own risk — best to self-edit like crazy, or just give them a "no comment." Particularly in the case of a teacher, a statement like that is going to reflect on her ability to treat her students fairly. If I had kids in that school, I'd be in the principal's office in a flash demanding that she have no contact with my children. The superintendant sounds like he's trying to walk a tightrope — unlike so many, he seems to be very aware of the legal consequences of a misstep.

Siddigfan February 15, 2013 at 9:37 am

I agree! can you imagine what would have happened if she came out openly affirming the morality of say, pole dancing, or swinging, or some other legal but frowned upon behavior? She would have been fired immediately I would dare to suspect.

searchcz February 13, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Diana Medley surely has the right to hold and express her beliefs at a church meeting. But an assessment of whether those personal beliefs are compromising her service @ work seems perfectly reasonable and warranted.

bill_lynn February 14, 2013 at 9:48 am

<div class="idc-message" id="idc-comment-msg-div-571043637"><a class="idc-close" title="Click to Close Message" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(571043637)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" target="_new" href="http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fthenewcivilrightsmovement.com%2Ffirst-amendment-superintendent-supports-teacher-who-said-gays-have-no-purpose%2Fdiscrimination%2F2013%2F02%2F13%2F60482#IDComment571043637&t=I%20just%20commented%20on%20First%20Amendment%3F%20Superintendent%20Supports%20Teacher%20Who%20Said%20Gays%20Have%20No%20Purpose%20%7C%20The%20New%20Civil%20Rights%20Movement&quot; style="text-decoration: none;"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(571043637)">Close MessageIf she stood up in front of her special ed class and called them all "retards who should never have been born" she would certainly be fired instantly. Why she hasn't been fired by now is the fault of the pin-headed Superintendent of Schools who thinks the First Amendment means you can say anything, anytime, anywhere, to anyone. NOT IN MY SCHOOL and NOT IN FRONT OF MY KIDS! Fire them both then run them out of town on a rail.

scottsteaux63 February 16, 2013 at 9:16 am

It is long past time for people like Diana Medley to face some real honest-to-God consequences when they insist on saying and/or doing things that hurt people. I've been a Christian for more than forty-five years, but frankly, I don't give a rat's ass about Medley's so-called *religious convictions* because all she is doing is using them to bolster her own hate. Now she can smile that smarmy phony smile all she wants to, and fix up her hair and makeup so that she thinks she looks pretty, but I can see right through that façade and what lies beneath the dressed-up exterior is UGLY.

She can pull Bible verses out of her ass until Jesus comes back. She can even shove the damn Bible where the sun doesn't shine for all I care. This country was not founded on the Bible; that honor goes to a little paper known as the United States Constitution.

To quote a phrase that's been making the rounds the past few years in Washington, "Senator, you put your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution; you did not put your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

Time and place. Even Jesus said "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's." Now if HE could grasp the concept of church-state separation, why is it so hard for some Americans??

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