TN School Board Member Has Hissy Fit Over “Okay To Be Gay” Yearbook Story

A board member at a high school in Tennessee is calling for the firing—and possible arrest—of a faculty advisor who approved a gay-affirming article in the student yearbook.

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.

Source: Knoxville News via  Towleroad


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  • Hyhybt

    Unfortunately (in this case, anyway), school boards are elected, so “eliminating substandard employees” will have to wait until at least the next election, which he’d probably win again anyway.

    Fortunately, there are others on the board, so there’s at least a chance they won’t fire anyone.

  • Tom

    I just sent an email to Superintendent Wayne Miller of the Lenoir School System expressing my dissatisfaction with the actions and disrespectful words of Mr. Van Shaver, and I would recommend that you do as well.

    [email protected]

  • denisesined

    I suppose I will be ignored but I feel the gentleman making the complaint is the actual problem. LGBT children know who and what they are from 3 to 6 years of age. They have as many rights as anyone else. The board should be looking at him and asking themselves what kind of board member they actually have. around 10 percent of children are GLBT and probably over half of them hide it for as long as possible due to people like this.
    Well my friend, I am a woman who used to be classed male. I am and have been legal female for 15 years with two daughters and two gran-daughters. I also have been with my spouse for over 40 years and she knew about me 3 months after we were married. I am almost 65 and very pleased at the growth of education regarding GLBT issues. People like our friend cause set backs and are a bump in the road but these days they are not much more than that in knowledgeable educated societies like America, Canada, England, France etc. They are to be pitied more than feared in most western societies.
    Denise Holliday
    [email protected]

  • mike

    This is a bass ackward world. van shaver and almost all the teachers at that school are so frightened just by the mere mention of the word gay or lesbian. Yet these same teachers don’t blink an eye when their school children are taught about war, and its killing of thousands of people, and the maiming and injuries of thousands of others, its just another day of school. Doesn’t the bible say “thou shalt not kill.” But I guess that just applies if you’re not in a war. Every sin in leviticus these teachers, without a doubt, commit, but they only focus on the, so called, two men lying together , sin. Which of course it is not a sin. van shaver why don’t you and your school buddies go plant a weed garden somewhere, you look like you’ve been using it for years.

  • jason

    I saw a picture of Van Shaver where he’s smiling for the camera. His teeth look as if they’ve got cum stains on them.

  • jason


    I also just sent an email to Wayne Miller of Lenoir City Schools. This is the text of it;

    Dear Wayne,

    As superintendent of lenoir city schools, I would like you to publicly reprimand Mr Van Shaver for his unwarranted and unfeeling comments towards a male student (Zac Mitchell) who identifies as gay. I find Van Shaver’s comments totally unacceptable. It behoves you to act appropriately in the interests of all students who look to schools as a form of sanctuary.

    Jason Smed

  • Mike Hipp

    I’m not one to spread rumors, but – look at that picture. Color coordinated suit with a sensible jacket; clothes perfect for his skin tone. Methinks Van dost protest too much.

  • Hephaestion

    Van Shaver is a very ignorant man. While I think it was naive to put something so bold in a high school yearbook in redneck Lenoir City, it is clear that Mr. Shaver is clueless and brainwashed with bigotted ideas of gay people. The school board needs to replace him with someone who seeks to be informed rather than spouting disproven lies about gays.

  • Andy

    What does Van Shaver’s male prostitute think about this controversy?

  • Belize

    The man’s name is Van Shaver. Enough said.

  • Blah, bla..huh?

    @Belize: I know right? You couldn’t make this stuff up. Watch him slowly escalate his publicly predatory assault on a teenager to the point where he fulfills his namesake and stuffs the kid in a van for Jesus. Gillette can at the ready, of course. Freakin’ perv, how much do you want to bet he’s part of a ring?

  • Hyhybt

    @shane: Speaking of hissy fits, this is not a good place for that one.

  • CBRad

    Surprisingly (or maybe not so much) Van Shaver looks exactly like another one of those prissy gay snots I’ve had to deal with in Manhattan.

  • Red Assault

    Some might say I’m intolerant of Christians. That’s probably accurate.

    While I support the right of someone to make such a choice (and it IS a choice), there are consequences for being Christian and you’re going to have to live with it.

    But allowing them to hold jobs, speak in public, have access to children and procreate? That’s not acceptable.

    I think that if one chooses to be a Christian, that’s their choice. But to protect American society, they should be sterilized so they stop making children to molest, stopped from holding jobs that allow them near kids and stopped from being allowed to spread their mental illness by having their mouths sewn shut.

    Now that Christians have made it legal to vote on the rights of minorities, we just have to wait for them to be a minority and vote all of their rights away.

  • DouggSeven

    @shane: Eating shellfish, wearing clothing with a mixture of different fabrics, not agreeing with slavery, divorce, eating pork, and premarital sex are also are abominations in your so-called ‘bible’. We’ll save you a seat in hell next to the murderers.

  • mike

    @shane: Hey asshole shane, what is a piece of shit homophobe like you doing on this site? Lets see, war kills people, destroys animal habitat, destroys human habitat and is constant, well shane I guess you’d probably not say this is against nature, because most breeders love war, makes em’ feel all manly, oo rah. Plenty of diseases breeders spread during their sex, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes,hiv, just to mention a few. God did not say gay sex is an abomination, pea brain, it was the Jews, in the book of leviticus, which was written by the Jews for the Jews. You know vagina face, you’re really not too bright.

  • BlogShag

    @shane: Thank God gays can’t reproduce, otherwise every place on the planet would be like Bangladesh or India or worse.

    And hmm, I suppose straight people don’t have anal sex and only have sex to reproduce, right? And they don’t spread disease? Pfffft! Please

  • LaTeesha

    @shane: Please pull that crack pipe out of your mouth. It’s too difficult to understand what you’re saying with that pipe in your mouth.

  • Clueless

    @No.2 DONE !

    How about the bigot’s e-mail ? ?

    I hope everyone has made good use of Tom’s research skills and sent an email to Wayne Miller.

  • Cam

    The complaint from this man, is that a student admitted that he existed.

    Don’t buy the “Kinder Gentler, Love the sinner hate the sin” B.S. that the right wing pretends they feel. They do not want gays to even be able to say “I am here, I exist”.

    Romney’s campaign fired somebody because the Right doesn’t want gays to have jobs, and this nutjob is calling for teachers to be fired because a boy simply revealed who he is.

    The level of hatred and bigotry is incredible.

  • HeroQueero

    This must be that Christian compassion we’ve been hearing so much about.

  • Matthew

    I believe that anyone exposing children under 18 to religion should be arrested for child abuse

  • B

    No. 23 · Matthew wrote, “I believe that anyone exposing children under 18 to religion should be arrested for child abuse”.

    It doesn’t always hurt them. Take Hector Berlioz (the composer) as an example. He once said that the Catholic Church was the joy of his life for a full five years. At the age of 5, he realized what they were saying; before that, he simply liked the music.

    While not religious, he ended up writing a lot of church music – Berlioz liked to write for very large orchestras and choruses and at the time, only a state or religious function would justify the expense. Combine the two, and you are talking about some real money, hence the huge orchestra and chorus for his requiem, which was first performed at a ceremony for a defunct politician of some renown.

  • Danny

    Did anyone really think that the neo-Nazis and KKK who were so prevalent in the USA throughout the 80’s and 90’s went away? They simply changed tactics.

  • drewa24

    @Matthew: I concur, religious beliefs are a TRILLION times more perverse than anyone’s sexual orientation.

  • Fire Yoakley

    Mr. Yoakley should be fired and people being with the same sex is not natural!

Comments are closed.