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Christian School Board Member Stirs Firestorm in Tennessee Over 'It's Okay to Be Gay' Student Yearbook Article

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Van Shaver, a school board member in Lenoir City, Tennessee, outside of Knoxville, is calling for the investigation of James Yoakley, a journalism teacher at Lenoir City High School, after an article about gay student Zac Mitchell was published in the school's yearbook.

Says Mitchell in the article, which details his coming out, donations to gay organizations, a trip to Nashville where he cross-dressed and some "straight guys hit on [him]", and his family's acceptance:

"There will always be people who bully me for being gay, but I don't care. It doesn't affect me and it never has. That's probably why they keep doing it. As a person who is all about love and peace, I know that you can't be fully or tryly happy until you are confident in who you are."

Shaver (pictured), in a blog post called "It's not OK," calls the publication of the article a "despicable act" and calls for an investigation by school administrators and law enforcement over it.

ShaverWrote Shaver on his blog:

In this twisted world we live in, some may believe It's OK to be gay but it's darn sure not OK for teachers to be promoting homosexuality in our high schools....

Mr. Yoakley is also the teacher who a couple of years ago refused to allow the two students Christian based article to run in the Panther Press. So apparently, Mr. Yoakley would discourage Christian values yet promote atheism and homosexuality.  
 
Some might think I'm intolerant toward homosexuals but that would be wrong. If an individual wants to be a homosexual, that's their own decision and they will have to live with the consequences of that decision. What I am intolerant of is an adult, a teacher no less, inflicting their personal beliefs and sexual orientation decisions on impressionable students.

If in fact it was Mr. Yoakley or any other teacher who allowed this article to be published in the year book, they should be dismissed from the school immediately. If it is found or known that Mr. Yoakley or any other teacher at any time has had any conversations or discussions with this student or any other student about their sexual orientation, sexual activities or anything about their private lives prior to those students being of legal age, those teachers should be charged with child sex abuse by an authority figure and arrested.

Knox News reports that petitions are being circulated hoping to deny Mitchell the right to attend graduation, and threats are being made at the student who wrote the article:

The yearbooks were distributed Friday. By Monday, local blogs had taken up the fight both for and against the article and the yearbook's faculty adviser, James Yoakley.

"I have received an unbelievable number of emails from parents and concerned citizens," said Lenoir City High School Principal Steve Millsaps.

According to students, petitions were being circulated urging others to tear the page from their yearbook as a sign of protest during graduation or to deny Mitchell the right to attend the ceremony. The 17-year-old student who wrote the article said she was afraid to have her name published.

"There have been threats made starting with, 'If I found out who wrote the story,' " she said.

Yoakley has been teaching at the school for 11 years, according to the paper.

Adds Shaver in his blog post:

"I and I know many other parents and members of our community expect a full and open investigation by school administrators and law enforcement into this issue and to hold accountable any and all those who had a hand in this despicable act.  To my fellow school board members. Contrary to what you have been told and taught, you do have the right and the authority to eliminate substandard employees. Exercise your authority."

(shaver image via knox news)

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Comments

  1. Reasoning with someone like this is FOOLISH.
    You don't understand that these people need to not have their houses of cards questioned, so whatever we say is from the devil

    Posted by: Bob | May 3, 2012 11:42:35 PM


  2. I lived in east TN for ten years, and I'm disturbed by the degree of hostility shown to those involved in writing and publishing this innocuous article. It's truly a shame--the people there were, in my experience, incredibly hospitable. It's hard, though, to live in that area and not be within a quarter mile of a church or Christian bookstore.

    These poor kids...I can't imagine how difficult it must be to be a gay high school student in east TN right now.

    Posted by: Stalcom | May 4, 2012 12:03:06 AM


  3. Maybe they can investigate his offensive 70's "porn 'stache"! LOL

    Posted by: WOW | May 4, 2012 1:08:04 AM


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    Posted by: Cheap Generic Viagra | May 4, 2012 1:08:19 AM


  5. @Chuck York:
    Your letter is polite and uses thoughtful reasoning. There is one point in it I would question:
    I long ago came to the conclusion thatto tell an obsessed homophobe that "I can't choose to be attracted to the opposite sex any more than you could choose to be attracted to the same sex" is a losing argument.
    Most of the time, these people's homophobia is a manifestation of their pathological disgust with themselves and the sexual feelings they fear within themselves.
    He would have absolutely no reason to attack gay people's innocuous happiness with their own lives if he were not unhappy and uncomfortable in his own skin.

    He may read what you wrote and, even if subconsciously, feel that he does, indeed "choose" not to be attracted to men (i.e. repress, repress, repress, with all the repression coming out in destructive ways.)

    Posted by: GregV | May 4, 2012 1:33:25 AM


  6. Some might think I'm intolerant toward christians but that would be wrong. If an individual wants to be a christian, that's their own decision and they will have to live with the consequences of that decision. What I am intolerant of is an adult, a teacher no less, inflicting their personal beliefs and religious decisions on impressionable students.

    Posted by: Neil | May 4, 2012 1:39:35 AM


  7. If anyone believes these bigots like Van shaver can be reasoned or educated to tolerance then you are truly delusional.

    Bigotry is their platform, their driving mentality......and as long as there are uneducated dumb people believing in the resurrection of the body, three gods in one and tricks like turning water into wine and walking on water, ......as long as that is not laughed out of court you will have these neanderthals spouting their redneck opinions as if they were literate.

    The sad thing is that ba$tard$ like Van Shaver are the ones who drive kids to bully others to suicide.
    He should be publicly dismissed.

    Posted by: JackFkTwist | May 4, 2012 4:05:14 AM


  8. Maybe it's just me, but the microsecond I saw that Shaver's guy picture, I went, "That guy is as gay as a birthday tablecloth."

    Posted by: Randal Oulton | May 4, 2012 4:45:17 AM


  9. G-d in Heaven, the opponents of gay rights keep getting gayer looking.

    And please, there's no point in calling these dipshits at their homes. It just makes the gay community look bad. Don't sink their level - unless you want to do it in a really humorous way, like saying you're Ted Haggard and you appreciate what he's doing.


    Posted by: St. Theresa of Avila | May 4, 2012 5:01:23 AM


  10. Fixed this for ya, Shaver:
    In this twisted world we live in, some may believe It's OK to be xtianist but it's darn sure not OK for teachers to be promoting religion in our high schools....

    Mr. Shaver is also the teacher who a couple of years ago refused to allow the article profiling a gay student to run in the Year Book. So apparently, Mr. Shaver would discourage equal Human values yet promote religion and bigotry.

    Some might think I'm intolerant toward xtianists but that would be wrong. If an individual wants to be a xtian, that's their own decision and they will have to live with the consequences of that decision. What I am intolerant of is an adult, a teacher no less, inflicting their personal beliefs and religious decisions on impressionable students.

    If in fact it was Mr. Shaver or any other teacher who prevented this article to be published in the year book, they should be dismissed from the school immediately. If it is found or known that Mr. Shaver or any other teacher at any time has had any conversations or discussions with this student or any other student about their religion, religious activities or anything about their private lives prior to those students being of legal age, those teachers should be charged with child abuse by an authority figure and arrested.

    Posted by: Jim | May 4, 2012 5:04:45 AM


  11. @ JIM :

    Nice........back at ya !

    Posted by: JackFkTwist | May 4, 2012 5:42:28 AM


  12. That bigot's blog is UGLY to the point of being unreadable.

    Posted by: Charlie | May 4, 2012 6:07:29 AM


  13. What do you expect from the land of cousin-uncles and mother-sisters.

    Posted by: 99% | May 4, 2012 7:02:08 AM


  14. Careful about what you send this vile toad. He is apparently collecting "evidence" on his blog in order to claim persecution and victim status

    Posted by: Steve | May 4, 2012 8:23:21 AM


  15. The backlash is on and it's strong, boys and girls. It's very, very strong.

    Posted by: Francis | May 4, 2012 8:27:12 AM


  16. What's ironic is how social conservatives and the brainwashed youth who listen to them always tend to say "if you didn't make homosexuality an issue it wouldn't be one" yet they go out of their way to make everything gay an issue, they say they don't care about ones' sexual orientation yet always prove how much they care with their hateful attacks against our community. They go out of their way to attack 16-18 year old teenagers while saying they care so much about the well-being of children. These countless stories coming from these social conservative backwaters regarding anti-gay bigotry just make you realize how hateful these individuals truly are. They REALLY do hate us. And the more we're seeing straight youth come out in support, the more our community stands up and doesn't take this discrimination laying down, the more severe the hate has become.

    Posted by: Francis | May 4, 2012 9:08:52 AM


  17. Van Shaver, grow the F**k up!

    Posted by: CoboWowbo | May 4, 2012 10:14:15 AM


  18. Terry - Where are you from and where do you currently live? I ask because I find it amazing that anyone thinks "the South" has a monopoly or even a majority share in ignorance. They have religious rightists everywhere- Sweden and Norway, in Alberta, in California and Maine. And don't forget that all you bleeding hearts that want to throw open the southern border and disregard the illegal aliens in the US are in fact enabling the Roman Catholic Church in the process.

    Posted by: David Hearn | May 4, 2012 10:24:10 AM


  19. Thanks for sharing that story, Chuck.

    Posted by: The Milkman | May 4, 2012 10:58:53 AM


  20. Ah, a bigot's blog, with no ability to comment. Typical pansy-assed behavior.

    Posted by: lorimakesquilts | May 4, 2012 11:15:17 AM


  21. With regards to Van Shaver, I look to Mean Girls:

    "She doesn't even go here!"

    Posted by: MateoM | May 4, 2012 11:19:10 AM


  22. It's people like this that gives "Christians" a bad name. True Christians are Christ like.
    He and all bigots are so unlike Christ.

    Posted by: WILLIAM | May 4, 2012 10:30:23 PM


  23. Things like this make me glad I live in London now! This kind of narrow minded bull should be outlawed and considered a hate crime! Pure & simple!

    Posted by: Steve | May 5, 2012 1:24:49 AM


  24. Are you serious?!? You can tell he is a bigot!!! When are people going to wake up and accept that being gay IS ok and there's not a darn thing wrong with it. As a proud mother of a son who we all believe is gay and as an open bisexual I am outraged.

    Posted by: Yacya | May 5, 2012 10:08:17 AM


  25. here is a poorly written response from board member, Bobby Johnson. Errors are verbatim.


    On 5/5/12, Bobby Johnson, Jr. wrote:


    I think something's have gotten mixed up in this situation. Mr.
    Shaver is not a part of Lenoir City School Board but he is a member of
    the Loudon County School Board. We have 2 different school systems in
    our county and 2 different school boards. The issue the young man
    being gay is his business and if he wants to be gay that is his right,
    but it should not be aired out in the yearbook. Lenoir City Schools
    have censored certain items from being in the yearbook and school
    newspaper to keep trouble and disruption down. They would not allow
    students to talk about Jesus and Christianity and other beliefs
    because of the censorship but the yearbook committee decided to do
    what they wanted and went around the censorship. If we are going to
    censor to protect the students and hold down disruption then all
    things need to be censored, not just what one select group wants
    .People in the community didn't approve of the yearbook because they
    felt that it didn't need to be in the yearbook. It is amazing to me to
    see this committee cry out because they are the ones who wanted the
    censorship enforced because they didn't want to hear about things they
    didn't believe in but yet they want to have their say no matter if
    somebody else doesn't want to hear about it. If their is going to be
    censorship then it needs to apply to everything not just what one
    group wants or believes.

    Posted by: oh boy | May 5, 2012 3:56:12 PM


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