The Tennessee teacher in charge of advising the students who create the Lenoir City High School annual yearbook has been transferred after a half-page interview positively depicting a gay student appeared in the school’s yearbook. Long-time journalism teacher and English Department Chair James Yoakley has been under attack by anti-gay parents and voters, including a neighboring school board member, Van Shaver, for the article, titled, “Itâ€™s OK To Be Gay,” which was written by a student and published in the schoolâ€™s yearbook.
At the beginning of May, Van Shaver, one of Yoakley’sÂ key opponents, wrote:
If in fact it was Mr. Yoakley or any other teacher who allowed this article to be published in the year book, they should beÂ 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 beÂ charged with child sex abuse by an authority figure and arrested.
â€œIâ€™m not happy with the reassignment, but will make the most of it and use it as an opportunity to grow as a teacher,â€ Yoakley told the Student Press Law CenterÂ via email. â€œI think that because I had done nothing that warranted my dismissal and that since I refused to acquiesce to the principalâ€™s suggestion that I resign, the system decided that the only way they could show that they had taken action was to move me to another school.â€
The story prompted strong reactions from community members against its publication, with some circulating a letter demanding a response and encouraging others to â€œtake a stand for our faith.â€
A separate group â€” called â€œTake A Stand Against The Ignorance In Lenoir Cityâ€ on Facebook â€” has encouraged more tolerance and openness by the district.
The Student Press Law Center’s Seth Zweifler writes that Yoakley, “believes last weekâ€™s reassignment was a move ‘designed to appease a small, but vocal, group of voters.â€
Superintendent Wayne Miller, who made the decision, denied this, saying instead that the yearbook never obtained Mitchellâ€™s permission to run the piece.
â€œWhether I think the content is appropriate or not is less the issue here than the fact that if we know we are going to publish controversial things and donâ€™t bother to get the studentâ€™s permission, thatâ€™s a problem,â€ Miller said.
He added that â€œthe courts have already been clear that these [student] publications are not open public forums … and it was reasonable to think this story was going to create some issues.â€
Yoakley, though, said Mitchell knew clearly that he was being interviewed for the yearbook, and had even openly expressed pride over the story soon after its publication.
Despite pressure from community members, Yoakley said the decision to allow the article was clear cut.
â€œI view the school yearbook and newspaper as student media. They make the editorial decisions, they decide the content and layout,â€ he said. â€œI have been the adviser for six years and have developed a philosophy that I think falls in line with student productions across the country.â€
Though Yoakley does not plan to pursue any legal action against the district, SPLC Attorney Advocate Adam Goldstein believes both Yoakley and his students could have a strong case, even though nobody was fired.
â€œIf the change in duties is perceived as retaliatory, it can still be the basis for a lawsuit,â€ Goldstein said.
He added that the minimal legal standard for determining whether a source has given permission to be interviewed by a reporter is whether a person of â€œordinary intelligenceâ€ would recognize that what is happening is, in fact, an interview.
â€œIf the school thinks that a graduating senior canâ€™t tell when heâ€™s being interviewed, then the yearbook is the least of their problems with their educational offerings,â€ he said.
According to Miller, this is not the first time that Yoakley has allowed â€œinappropriate contentâ€ to make its way into either the yearbook or newspaper. He believes Yoakley has not always exercised appropriate oversight over the publications, and hopes that his reassignment will allow him to be â€œmore successful.â€
That â€œinappropriate contentâ€?
Earlier this year, as The New Civil Rights Movement reported, a student wrote an op-ed chastising the Lenoir City school system for promoting prayer before board meetings and football games. “I feel that my rights as an atheist are severely limited when compared to other students who are Christians,” the student wrote. The school administration refused to allow the piece to be published in the school newspaper so the student sent it to the local newspaper, where it was published and reprinted elsewhere, causing a firestorm among the local citizens who do not support the constitutionally-required separation of church and state.
â€œIn this twisted world we live in, some may believe Itâ€™s OK to be gay but itâ€™s darn sure not OK for teachers to be promoting homosexuality in our high schools,â€ school board member Van Shaver wrote in a blog post, â€œItâ€™s Not OK,â€ on his personal blog, in which he claims the yearbook article is â€œpromoting a gay life style.â€
And as New Civil Rights Movement writer Scott Rose stated earlier this month, it may have violated federal statutes had the article on the gay student not been allowed to run.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified theÂ Student Press Law Center as the Southern Poverty Law Center. We apologize for the error.
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Karine Jean-Pierre Schools Peter Doocy for Asking if White House Is ‘Loving’ GOP House Chaos
In the middle of an interview with U.S Senator John Kennedy, Fox News interrupted the Louisiana Republican for some “breaking news,” as the right wing cable network’s Peter Doocy began to ask White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the chaos far-right wing Republicans caused by ousting Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday.
“All right. Senator, thank you for joining us. We got a little bit of breaking news here. We got to jump back to the briefing. Our Peter Doocy is questioning the Press Secretary,” John Roberts told viewers as the camera cut to the White House Press Briefing Room.
“Is any part of the West Wing here, just loving the fact that Republicans don’t appear to be able to govern the one part of the government that they actually control?” Doocy asked.
“Nobody’s ‘loving’ anything when it’s when we’re not when we’re not able to deliver for the American people. Nobody’s loving that,” Jean-Pierre replied, as she explained to Doocy what the White House believes is actually important.
“It is important for Congress to work, not for us, but on behalf of the American people. It is important to make sure that we meet the challenges of the American people. That’s what’s important. What we saw, you heard from the President, what we saw on Saturday should have never have happened, but we’re glad that a deal was made. We’re glad that we’re not in a shutdown. But House Republicans should have never gotten us that far.”
Jean-Pierre went on to tell Doocy that since Republicans “are the majority in the House, they can fix this.”
“They’re creating the chaos. That is not helpful to the American people.”
“That’s why you saw the President today talk about student debt relief, and talk about what else he’s doing to make sure that we’re giving a little bit of breathing room to the American people. That’s why you heard from the President yesterday talking about or our announcement, talking about how we’re continuing to beat Big Pharma so we can lower prescription drug costs for the American people. That’s what the President cares about. That’s what he wants to see – what can we continue to do to help Americans as they face really tough challenges? So this is not, we’re not loving it. It is not helpful to any any American across the country.”
Doocy, went on to ask if “anybody in the West Wing has heard anybody talking about the possibility of ‘Speaker Trump.'”
Watch below or at this link.
Fox News cuts off interview with senator for “breaking news,” which is Peter Doocy asking KJP the following questions:
– is the West Wing “loving the fact” that the GOP doesn’t appear able to govern the House?
– are you guys talking about a possible Speaker Trump? pic.twitter.com/Csr2E2CYI5
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) October 4, 2023
Jim Jordan, a ‘Significant Player’ in Trump’s Efforts to Overturn Election Results, Running for Speaker of the House
House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan unexpectedly announced Wednesday morning he will run for Speaker of the House after several far-right Republicans ousted Kevin McCarthy Tuesday. Jordan, a far-right Republican who supported McCarthy, reportedly was “deeply involved” with, and a “significant player” in Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Chairman Jordan, who created and also chairs the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, has used both platforms to further Republicans’ false claims on a wide range of issues.
Just two weeks ago, CNN reported, “Jordan made false claims in his opening remarks at a Wednesday hearing at which Jordan and other Republicans pressed Attorney General Merrick Garland about the Justice Department’s handling of investigations into former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.”
In his Wednesday “Dear Colleague” letter announcing his run for the Speakership (below), Jordan made clear his positions, while claiming the Republican House “majority has had success in the first nine months of the 118th Congress. We should be proud of what we have achieved together in these divided times.”
According to Legiscan, which tracks all legislation across the country at the state and federal level, the Republican House this year has had just eight bills signed into law.
One suspended the debt ceiling for a specified period of time. One, passed and signed into law on Saturday, avoided a shutdown of the federal government.
Others, for example, “require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the United States Marine Corps,” and “establish a task force on improvements for notices to air missions.” One focused on “Trade between the United States of America and Taiwan.” One will “designate the clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Indian River, Michigan, as the ‘Pfc. Justin T. Paton Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic,'” and one will “take certain land located in San Diego County, California, into trust for the benefit of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, and for other purposes.”
In his letter Jordan also railed against “Far-left progressive policies” which, he says, “are destroying our communities, our security, and our future,” followed by a list of regular GOP claims like “soaring crime across the country,” and “an administration with open-border policies.”
But if Jordan is elected, the nation would have as second in the line of succession to the presidency a Speaker who The New York Times has reported, “was deeply involved in President Donald J. Trump’s effort to challenge the 2020 election outcome.”
In May of last year, the Associated Press reported on Jordan’s efforts to help Trump overturn the election:
“Rioters who smashed their way into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, succeeded — at least temporarily — in delaying the certification of Joe Biden’s election to the White House,” the AP wrote. “Hours before, Rep. Jim Jordan had been trying to achieve the same thing.”
On January 6 of this year, exactly two years after the 2021 insurrection, David Corn at Mother Jones warned: “House Speaker Fight Shows Election Deniers Who Tried to Overthrow Democracy Still Control GOP.”
That Speaker fight ultimately ended with Kevin McCarthy being handed the gavel after fifteen attempts, and ended Tuesday afternoon when eight of his own House Republicans, led by Matt Gaetz, essentially fired him.
“Trump coup accomplices Jim Jordan and Scott Perry have become two of the GOP’s biggest powerbrokers,” Corn wrote, adding: “Perry and Jordan stand out for their significant participation in Trump’s anti-constitutional and arguably criminal caper.”
As Corn and others have noted, the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack deemed Jim Jordan “a significant player in President Trump’s efforts.”
Jordan, the January 6 Committee wrote, according to Mother Jones, “participated in numerous post-election meetings in which senior White House officials, Rudolph Giuliani, and others, discussed strategies for challenging the election, chief among them claims that the election had been tainted by fraud. On January 2, 2021, Representative Jordan led a conference call in which he, President Trump, and other Members of Congress discussed strategies for delaying the January 6th joint session. During that call, the group also discussed issuing social media posts encouraging President Trump’s supporters to ‘march to the Capitol’ on the 6th.”
In February of 2022 CNN reported, “Newly obtained records show Trump and Jim Jordan spoke at length on [the] morning of January 6.”
“Two sources who have reviewed the call records tell CNN that Trump spoke on the phone at the White House residence with Jordan for 10 minutes on the morning of January 6. That afternoon, Jordan took to the House floor to object to the certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, and pro-Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol.”
Jordan also refused to obey a subpoena lawfully-issued by the House January 6 Committee. He was unanimously referred to the House Ethics Committee in December of 2022, which Republicans gutted when the officially took the majority in January.
Read Jordan’s letter below or at this link.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) October 4, 2023
Pelosi Strikes Back After New House GOP Leadership, in Act of ‘Revenge’ Immediately Targets Top Democrats
Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi is sending a strong message to House Republican Leadership after now-former Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s hand-picked acting replacement, U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), evicted her and Steny Hoyer, the former Democratic House Majority Leader, from their Capitol Offices, in what reportedly is an act of “revenge.”
McHenry, a hard-core conservative, made clear his outrage over McCarthy’s ouster when he angrily gaveled out the House on Tuesday.
The Rep. Patrick McHenry gavel slam …. pic.twitter.com/TV1VGbkT7Y
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) October 3, 2023
In one of his first acts as “Speaker Pro Tempore,” McHenry, the longtime McCarthy ally who worked behind the scenes in January to help McCarthy get enough votes to become Speaker on the fifteenth try, ordered Pelosi late Tuesday night to vacate her office immediately.
“Please vacate the space tomorrow, the room will be re-keyed,” an aide to McHenry directed Pelosi.
Overnight, McHenry made the same demand of Hoyer.
Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman reports the evictions are “revenge for Democrats voting with @mattgaetz to boot @SpeakerMcCarthy from the speakership.”
“Expect more of this, GOP sources tell us,” he adds.
Tuesday night, before the Hoyer eviction, Pelosi had responded with a brutal, damning statement, explaining that she had remained in California, mourning her longtime friend and colleague, the late Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Politico reported that “House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ staff helped Pelosi’s office make the move, according to a spokesperson for the former speaker.”
In a scratching rebuke, Pelosi said in her public statement, “With all of the important decisions that the new Republican Leadership must address, which we are all eagerly awaiting, one of the first actions taken by the new Speaker Pro Tempore was to order me to immediately vacate my office in the Capitol.”
“Office space doesn’t matter to me,” she added, “but it seems important to them.”
“Now that the new Republican Leadership has settled this important matter, let’s hope they get to work on what’s truly important to the American people.”
Pelosi, in California, had not voted on removing McCarthy. She had not indicated how she would have voted, possibly out of respect for the office of Speaker of the House.
But after Hoyer was targeted for eviction, the Speaker Emerita issued an official announcement to be placed in the Congressional Record. As C-Span’s Craig Caplan reported Wednesday, Pelosi announced she would have voted to oust McCarthy.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was in California yesterday for the late Senator Dianne Feinstein’s memorial services, announced in the Congressional Record she would have voted No against tabling Matt Gaetz’s effort to remove Kevin McCarthy as Speaker & Yes to oust him. pic.twitter.com/FFNbmqj9xP
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) October 4, 2023
Watch the video clip of McHenry above or at this link.
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