In a blog post, Lenoir City High School board member Van Shaver (right) called the printing of an article about gay student Zac Mitchell—in which Mitchell discussed doing drag, facing bullies and gaining acceptance from family and friends—a “despicable act.”(The text of the article is at bottom.)
Shaver also said journalism teacher James Yoakley, who oversees the yearbook, should be dismissed immediately and charged with child abuse:
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.
Shaver isn’t alone in his unique brand of Christian “love”: Petitions have been circulated demanding Mitchell not be allowed to attend graduation, and the 17-year-old student who wrote the article (and is afraid to have her name published) says she’s faced threats.
In his rant Shaver reminds his colleagues that they have “the right and the authority to eliminate substandard employees.” Does that count for board members as well?
So as not to leave a bad taste in your mouth, we’re going to end this post with a quote from Mr. Yoakley we found on the school’s website:
Students often ask why we must study literature. It is really quite simple. Literature is life condensed into a pure, edifying art. It has the power to teach, inspire, transform, and enlighten. It can leave us rapt in wonder, laughing aloud, or sobbing. Life without literature would be rather boring.