FARMERSBURG, Ind. – An Indiana school district reeling from the uproar over a teacher's comments that she believes gays have no purpose in life suspended the woman Wednesday.
Superintendent Mark Baker of the Northeast School Corp. in western Indiana's Sullivan County issued a statement saying the teacher has been placed on administrative leave out of concern "for the safety and security of everyone in our buildings." He added that "as a precaution" the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department and Indiana State Police "have deemed it necessary to station an officer" at North Central Junior-Senior High School in Farmersburg, about 75 miles southwest of Indianapolis.
He said the "administration and one school employee in particular" at the school have received "aggressive email messages."
"We are turning over to law enforcement all such communications," Baker said.
The superintendent did not identify the teacher, but special education teacher Diana Medley's comments have circulated widely on social networking sites amid news coverage in nearby Sullivan of a non-school sanctioned prom that would ban gay students. Sullivan, a city of about 4,200, is near the Illinois border.
"I just ... I don't understand it," Medley said when asked whether homosexuals have a purpose in life. She was speaking to WTWO-TV of Terre Haute at a planning meeting earlier this month for the anti-gay dance.
Medley, who has no published telephone number, couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday. She didn't immediately respond to a message that The Associated Press sent to her school email account.
"As many of you know and appreciate, our school corporation is continuing to manage as responsibly and respectfully as possible the fallout from comments made by an employee as she attended a meeting outside of school or a school activity," Baker said. "We have conveyed our disappointment and our disagreement with these statements and have emphasized her comments do not reflect our schools' views or opinions."
As of Wednesday, a petition on Change.org calling for Medley's dismissal had generated more than 19,500 signatures from as far away as the United Kingdom, and a Facebook page supporting a prom that includes all students had more than 28,000 likes. Meanwhile, some gay rights groups are trying to bolster the confidence of gay teens with a Facebook page that will collect supportive videos.