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February 12, 2013

'Traditional' prom excludes gays, lesbians

SULLIVAN, Ind. — Concerns that gay/lesbian couples will attend a high school-sponsored prom this spring have prompted a group to organize a separate event for heterosexual couples only.

The controversy over the “2013 Sullivan Traditional Prom” is drawing nationwide attention and online petitions in protest.

Despite the protest, the Rev. Gary Larimer of Sullivan Wesleyan Church said  that plans continue for the so-called traditional prom, one that bars gay/lesbian couples. “It’s something where we can give the kids a choice,” he said.

He attended a planning meeting  for the prom that would allow only girl-boy couples to attend.

“A lot of kids are upset with this issue,"  Larimer said. "We want to let the kids know the church is behind you. We’re doing this out of love,”

Larimer said the Bibles teaches that homosexual lifestyles are an abomination.

The Sullivan High School prom won’t exclude anyone, school officials say.

“We’re having our prom April 27 as we always do. We’ll encourage all students to attend,” said Chris Stitzle, superintendent of Southwest School Corp. “We treat all students with dignity and respect, and that’s not going to change.”

The school is not affiliated with the group planning the “traditional” prom, “nor are we responsible for it,” Stitzle said.

David Springer, who’s been the Sullivan High School principal for just seven months, said the controversy arose when two girls wanted to participate in the “grand march” together, and they started a petition.

The petition wasn’t needed because there is nothing prohibiting two girls from participating as a couple in the in the march together, Springer said.

The grand march takes place in the gym, prior to the prom, when couples are announced as they enter.

Ken Falk of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana said that same-sex couples who want to attend the district-sponsored high school prom would be protected by the U.S. Constitution.

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Details for this story were provided by The Tribune Star in Terre Haute, Ind.

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