KNOXVILLE – English teacher James Yoakley knows a thing or two about censorship. As journalism adviser for Lenoir City High School for six years, Yoakley juggled student expression with the public school’s censoring of student publications. He will share his experiences at the next Knoxville Writers’ Guild meeting.
The event, which will be open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Laurel Theater, at the corner of Laurel Avenue and 16th Street in Fort Sanders.
A $2 donation is requested at the door. The building is handicapped accessible. Additional parking is available at Redeemer Church of Knoxville, 1642 Highland Ave.
Last May, Yoakley was removed from his position as LCHS English department chair and journalism adviser after the release of the 2011-12 LCHS yearbook. The yearbook’s theme was “In My Element” and included a profile of a gay student written by a student on the yearbook staff. The controversy received national attention after Van Shaver, a Loudon County school board member, called for Yoakley’s termination.
Yoakley, who was transferred to Lenoir City Middle School by Lenoir City superintendent Wayne Miller following the controversy, will talk about this and other incidents at the meeting.
“I will be speaking about my experiences this year with high school journalism and censorship,” he said.
LCHS and the journalism department also made national news in February, when an editorial entitled, “No Rights: The Life of an Atheist,” written by the school newspaper’s student editor, Krystal Myers, was censored by school administrators.
Yoakley taught at LCHS for 11 years, serving five years as department chair. The yearbooks he advised have received numerous recognitions from both the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the National Scholastic Press Association. In 2010, he presented at the National Council of Teachers of English Convention.
Additional information about the Knoxville Writers’ Guild and its events can be found at www.knoxvillewritersguild.org.