Strong Reactions to Gay-Friendly Yearbook Piece

A seemingly innocuous yearbook article about a gay student has sent a Tennessee town over the edge.

BY Neal Broverman

May 04 2012 5:27 PM ET

Lenoir City High School student Zac Mitchell is described as being proudly out in the piece, which appears in the senior yearbook and is entitled, "It's OK to Be Gay."

"There will always be people who bully me for being gay, but I don't care," Mitchell tells an unnamed author in the article. "It doesn't affect me and it never has. That's probably why they keep doing it."

The piece is now reverberating around the eastern Tennessee town, located near Knoxville. A local blogger stopped just short of calling for the yearbook adviser, journalism teacher James Yoakley, to be fired. He's been teaching at the school for 11 years. "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," writes Van Shaver.

Another national controversy recently roiled the school when officials refused to run an op-ed about atheism in the school newspaper.

The Associated Press reports that petitions are circling around LCHS that call for students to rip out the page with the article during graduation as well as calling for Mitchell to not be allowed to graduate.

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