After over an hour of emotionally-charged speeches from LCHS students and members of the community, LCSS superintendent Dr. Rob Brown announced Wednesday morning that distribution of the 2019-2020 yearbook would resume immediately.
“When concerns were expressed to me about the yearbook, it was my duty to get a copy of that yearbook and to review it,” Brown said. “...we have no legal right to censor your yearbook when there are issues that are not lewd, vulgar, obscene, immoral, unethical in the book and we will continue distribution of that book today.”
Distribution of the 2020 LCHS yearbook was halted by Brown and principal Billy Kirk on Monday, after complaints about the book’s front cover began pouring in. That cover featured the image of a student’s fist alongside the word “revolution.” Tuesday, school officials announced a Called Meeting to discuss the yearbook in a public forum would be held Wednesday morning.
After an introduction from Brown, members of the yearbook staff were invited to speak to a socially distanced crowd that filled the LCHS auditorium. Editors of the staff spoke to those in attendance and were met with resounding applause and support. The Nugget streamed the meeting on Facebook Live and it quickly garnered thousands of views. (See the meeting at https://www.facebook.com/TheDahlonegaNugget/.)
“I shared a picture yesterday on my personal social media of the cover of our book with the caption ‘Proud managing editor, LCHS Yearbook 2019-2020,” Lauren Rider, one of the yearbook staff members, said during the meeting. “The amount of support that flowed in from that image, to me was astonishing. I hadn’t realized how truly important this book was to me...until people had started trying to take it away.”
Those in the community which agreed to conditions put forth by school officials prior to the meeting and signed a waiver ensuring their compliance to those conditions were then invited to publicly address the students and crowd. Of those who signed the waiver, 12 people spoke, from students to LCHS faculty, to other members of the community, with all but one speaking in favor of the students.
After all who signed the waiver were given an opportunity to publicly speak on the issue, Brown addressed the crowd in support of the students and school, before announcing that the books would be distributed again.
“What we are doing in Lumpkin County High School and all of our schools, is creating critical thinkers,” Brown said. “We are creating kids who will grow up and make decisions and learn how to think for themselves, rather than being told what to think. And that scares the crap out of some people. I’m proud of our kids. I’m proud of what’s in this book. … Students, you have an amazing publication.”