Christian leaders are speaking out against a Clovis, N.M., high school yearbook that included photos of and interviews with same-sex couples.

The Clovis yearbook features photos and interviews with two lesbian couples on a two-page presentation along with nine heterosexual couples.

School administrators say the yearbook does not violate school district policies and holds up anti-discrimination policies.

Will Cockrell is a community member and leader of a Clovis church group that watches legislation that “infringes on the church’s constitutional rights,” he said.

Cockrell attended a recent school board meeting with a local minister, a student and local businessman who all voiced his opinion:
“Gay” and lesbian couples should not be projected routinely in the high school’s yearbook.

In a crowd of about 170 at the meeting, Cockrell said the vast majority asked for assurance that school officials would not allow similar actions in the future. About 15 countered Cockrell’s position, and the minority was given a loud voice at the meeting, he said.

“We’ll wait and see,” Cockrell said. “But we’ve not received what we went after yet, and we’re hoping that we will.”

According to Associated Press, Maggie Chavez, the yearbook’s student editor-in-chief, said there was much discussion among the yearbook staff before deciding to include the photos and interviews.

“We just wanted to show that there is a diversity,” Chavez said.
“There (are) gay and lesbian couples in the school and they have a right to be in the yearbook just as much as anybody else does.”

Derek Osburn, associate pastor at Central Baptist Church in Clovis, said he met with the superintendent, another pastor, two school board members and a liaison before the school board meeting to raise his concern.

At this meeting, he learned that due to a policy enacted in 2004 and confirmed by the school board, school publications are not subject to administrative input.

But the Clovis superintendent said that this summer it will be reviewed and it might be changed for next year.

Osburn said the public displays of affection pictured in the yearbook are prohibited by the student handbook, and the subject matter of student relationships has nothing to do with school or extra-curricular activities provided by the school.

He also discussed the school’s mission statement with the superintendent and school board officials – a mission statement that affirms the school’s commitment to work with churches and the community.

Osburn said the yearbook staff’s actions were “not a good depiction for the values of our church and our community.”

School officials said they would refund the $75 yearbook without question.

Cockrell wrote in a letter to the editor that religious beliefs aside, a majority of Americans still feel that homosexuality is offensive, just as a majority might find pornography and child predators, and other “social anomalies” offensive.

“But neither do we want those social anomalies projected as routine to our youth or people viewing Clovis from the outside, whether casually or contemplating relocating to Clovis,” Cockrell wrote.

According to reports, one of those objecting to the display was former Lt. Gov Walter Bradley, who said, “[The school’s yearbook] is no place for that type of negligent exploitation of our kids.”

He added, “I do not in any way believe this reflects the attitudes and values of this community.”


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Sterling Meyers is an intern with WND.

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