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


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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Posted May. 3,2012 at 8:46 PM EST by in Education, News, Tennessee, Zac Mitchell | Permalink | Comments (54)

Towleroad Guide To The Tube #1117

COACHING: Joss Whedon knows how to use the toilet.

LUNCH: That's one lucky kid, and one hungry cat.

ELEMENTAL REMINDER: They Might Be Giants provide timeless lesson.

HARMLESS: Way worse than hairy palms.

For more Guides to the Tube, click HERE.

Posted May. 3,2012 at 6:40 PM EST by in Film, News, Towleroad Guide to the Tube | Permalink | Comments (8)

News: Chen Guangcheng, The Scream, Gay X-Man, Ashton's Bomb

Northstar6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi The forthcoming 50th issue of Astonishing X-Men in which gay hero Northstar is set to marry his boyfriend has helped boost sales for publisher Marvel.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Cooking, cave man style.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Anti-gay pastor Sean Harris on his comments about beating gay kids: "I do stand by is that the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly. I'm not going to compromise on that."

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Lindsay Lohan and Sam Ronson are reportedly at it again.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng called Congress today and asked to speak directly with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "I want to meet with the Secretary Clinton,” he said. “I hope I can get more help from her. I also want to thank her face to face.”

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Chelsea Clinton comes out against North Carolina's Amendment One: "Amendment One unfairly targets women, children and families, gay and straight, who fall outside of the narrow definition of family articulated by those who drafted the legislation. It is our duty to join the fight on behalf of both the gay and lesbian North Carolinians..."

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Neo-nazis, meanwhile, are all about Amendment One.

Chen6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Catholic Media Group honors Modern Family.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi My friend Jeff Bercovici picked director Joss Whedon's brain. I'm so jealous.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi British Prime Minister David Cameron: "If marriage is good for heterosexuals, it is good for gay couples too."

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Demolishing the gender binary.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Is this commercial featuring Ashton Kutcher playing Karl Lagerfeld and people of color offensive?

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Vermont and New York Democratic chairmen now objecting to use of their names in push to include marriage equality in party's official platform.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi More teens smoking pot than cigarettes. Is that a good thing?

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Advice from Log Cabin Republican founder Rich Tafel to Mitt Romney: "Hire gay campaign staff: Romney must hire and retain qualified gay people in positions of leadership in his campaign and promise to bring them into his administration. The Richard Grenell debacle reinforces an image that the far right is in control of his campaign."

Cumberbatch6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi More on that controversial commercial.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Lance Bass and boyfriend Michael Turchin look pretty fly topless.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi When NPH met Oprah.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi The Scream sold at auction for about $120 million. Who says you can't put a price on art love?

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi A California sheriff's deputy is suing the Merced County Sheriff's Department for anti-gay discrimination.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of the Sherlock Holmes television show, says he is "flattered" by gay fan fiction.

6a00d8341c730253ef01676542c07b970b-800wi Congratulations to Ron Baity, Patrick Wooden, Mark Creech and Tami Fitzgerald for making GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project, a tally of anti-gay pundits currently enlisted to comment through major news outlets.

Posted May. 3,2012 at 5:56 PM EST by in 2012 Election, China, Comic Books, David Cameron, Discrimination, Film and TV, Gay Marriage, GLAAD, Lance Bass, News, North Carolina, Religion, Sean Harris | Permalink | Comments (10)

DNC Hits Romney On Women's Rights: VIDEO


Michele Bachmann came out to endorse Mitt Romney's presidential campaign today, but not before the Democratic National Committee released an ad highlighting her, Romney and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's conservative stances on Planned Parenthood and abortion.

Watch the DNC claim the GOP trio are "turning back the clock," AFTER THE JUMP.

Posted May. 3,2012 at 4:42 PM EST by in 2012 Election, Mitt Romney, News | Permalink | Comments (4)

11 Democratic State Chairs Call For Including Marriage Equality In Party Platform

DNCWith only four months until the Democratic National Convention, 11 state party chairs have joined the growing chorus asking the Dems as a whole to finally embrace marriage equality.

Party heads from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and eight other states today announced that they want the Democratic Party to include a commitment to same-sex marriage in their official platform.

One of the chairmen, New York's Jay Jacobs, remarked, "Marriage equality is simply the right thing to do, and that's why I strongly believe that the Democratic Party should stand united for a freedom to marry plank in our national Democratic Party platform."

While President Obama would surely like to put gay marriage on the sideboard before November's election, increased pressure from colleagues like Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry will most likely -- or at least hopefully -- inspire him to take a definitive stand for or against equal rights.

Posted May. 3,2012 at 2:31 PM EST by in 2012 Election, Barack Obama, News | Permalink | Comments (12)

Did Mitt Romney's Campaign Try To Silence Richard Grenell?


Richard Grenell claimed that he resigned from Mitt Romney's campaign because of the "hyper-partisan" debate about his homosexuality. Andrew Sullivan now reports, however, that Grenell may have been frustrated by the reaction within Romney's camp to the controversy, particularly how Romney campaign staffers tried to "silence" him.

According to Sullivan's sources, Romney's campaign asked Grenell, the candidate's foreign policy advisor, to stay silent on a conference calls with reporters about Romney's international policy. Apparently reporters wondered why Grenell was not on a call he coordinated. He was, however, on the call, but had been told not to speak out, up or otherwise make his presence known. Grenell, Sullivan writes, had been "muzzled."

Sources close to Grenell say that he was specifically told by those high up in the Romney campaign to stay silent on the call, even while he was on it. And this was not the only time he had been instructed to shut up. Their response to the far right fooferaw was simply to go silent, to keep Grenell off-stage and mute, and to wait till the storm passed.


A couple other thoughts... If all gay Republicans who support marriage equality are banned even from speaking on other topics entirely (like Iran or Afghanistan, where Grenell is a fire-breather), who's left? The answer, I'm afraid, is no one. Grenell was prepared to stay silent on gay issues entirely and do his job. But that wasn't enough. Romney's anti-gay agenda is therefore deeper and more extreme than Bush's.

One has to wonder what Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom, who yesterday claimed Romney is against "intolerance," will have to say about this.

Posted May. 3,2012 at 12:50 PM EST by in 2010 Election, Mitt Romney, News, Richard Grenell | Permalink | Comments (29)


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