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Tenn High School Principal Allegedly Threatens Student Over Pro-Gay Tee-shirt

Jim Burroway

October 5th, 2011

A seventeen-year-old senior at Sequoyah High School in Madisonville, Tennessee, was reportedly shoved, bumped in the chest and verbally harassed by the school’s principal for wearing a tee-shirt supporting students’ efforts to launch a gay-straight alliance. In response, the ACLU of Tennessee is calling on the school district to protect the students’ rights to free speech in the classroom.

According to a press release from the ACLU of Tennessee:

[Chris] Sigler wore a homemade T-shirt to school last Tuesday that said “GSA: We’ve Got Your Back.” A teacher ordered Sigler to cover up the shirt in the future. Sigler, knowing he had a right to wear the shirt, wore it again Friday, and resisted an order to remove the shirt. Sigler says that [Principal Maurice] Moser then ordered all students out of the classroom, except for Sigler’s sister Jessica, who refused to leave. According to both students, Moser then grabbed Sigler’s arm, shoved him, and chest-bumped him repeatedly while asking “Who’s the big man now?” Sigler’s mother reported that when she arrived at the school, she saw her son seated in a desk with Moser leaning over him and shouting in Sigler’s face. The Siglers filed a report about the incident that afternoon with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.

Students at  Sequoyah have been trying to start a GSA during the school year, but have been blocked and threatened with suspension by the school’s principal.

The ACLU says that if the school doesn’t receive an satisfactory answer by October 11, they will explore legal options, including filing a complaint in federal court. Assistant Director of Schools Tim Blankenship responded:

“The Monroe County School System is aware of the alleged accusations. We have received written statements from all eyewitnesses. Our documentation clearly indicated that there are always two sides to every story. We’ll gladly provide more information as it becomes available.”

Comments

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BlackDog
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

You’d think these idiots would of got the message by now. Getting sued is expensive, and this is an issue where there are a lot of precedents in the students favor already. Why do they think it’s going to turn out any differently THIS time?

Lightning Baltimore
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

What, pray tell, is the other side in this story?

Priya Lynn
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

“What, pray tell, is the other side in this story?”.

The principal hates gays and wants to oppress them.

KZ
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

What the hell is wrong with our society? I don’t remember hearing very much of this when I was in high school (ten years ago). Idiotic teachers posting homophobic crap on the internet, fathers and their friends beating their sons up at church, too many gay related suicides…

Speaking of gay issues in Tennessee, anyone hear anything new on Senator Stacey Campfield’s ridiculous
“Don’t Say Gay” bill?

BlackDog
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

@ KZ: I don’t remember much more than the occasional gay joke when I was in high school (Graduated 1992) and I’m from a small, redneck town. We had (I think?) a Gay dude in my class and there was one debateably bisexual girl in the entire school. I had an (Out and dying of AIDS) gay neighbor who was really cool…and everybody worried about his health and nobody cared so much that he was gay. My hometown is/was 99.9% white so not very diverse otherwise either and I STILL don’t recall massive amounts of homophobia.

I really do think all this anti-gayness is a product of the politicization of everything by the Christian right in the 1990′s and early 2000′s. It’s a ‘safe’ “sin” as in one that a lot of them don’t do and they can use it to inflame people’s ego and prejudice.

For a while, it was the last socially acceptable prejudice…so they ran with it. It’s base and cheap and wrong…and of course they don’t give a shit that it’s wrong.

It pisses me off, it does.

Steve
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

Some of it is probably also a backlash against the increased visibility of gay people in the last 10-15 years. It’s simply a lot more talked about in the media and in politics.

Lucrece
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

Isn’t it lovely how so many systems (schools, police, etc) get to be in charge of investigating themselves of any offenses, as if they would ever be impartial?

I’m tired of all these “investigations” which actually translate into evidence erasing/burying campaigns so the school board can say what it always says: “Our reports found no evidence of it happening.”

Of course they will never find evidence! Admitting to fault opens them up for litigationa dn even criminal prosecution. Why would they ever aid in getting their own judged unfavorably?

Lightning Baltimore
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

@Priya:

That’s the obvious side. I meant what’s the other one: evil gays want to be treated like *shudder* human beings?!?!

Regan DuCasse
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

@Blackdog: the one dubiously gay man in your town was someone off the radar. However, if he’d been one of TWO, in a couple, rest assured it would have been seen as a MAJOR conspiracy for gays taking over the joint.

Nobody thinks they are necessarily, racist, sexist or homophobic until there are the very people around to actually TEST their attitudes on. If a town or school is homogenic, then how can they know WHAT they know (or don’t) about a person or minority of people?
Certainly the evidence of gays and lesbians coming out at such very young ages is part of why there ARE so many higher incidents of assault, but this time from the ADULTS in this equation. Like teachers, pastors and parents.
The essential trifecta of one’s social network.

Before, gay people didn’t even let their families know they were gay until well into adulthood and typically far from home. Which confused these people into thinking that gay people ‘became’ gay once their associations were with more gay people.
The courageous gay kids and their supporters out there are TRYING to tell the adults that this has NOTHING to do with mere association on whether you is or ain’t, but when it was safe to let someone know.
Apparently for some kids, the adults NEVER want to know.
And in an EDUCATIONAL setting, for the adults in charge to discourage positive education and real answers to questions they have been to stupid and fearful to ask, well…makes on wonder why an educator WOULD discourage education.

The kids are alright, it’s the lily livered adults who have their heads up their asses in TN.

Reilly
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

And now let’s take bets on NEXT week’s big story in the local paper. My money is on something that involves the town’s leading lights wringing their hands and desperately trying to figure out why all the young people get the hell out of town when they turn 18. ;-)

mark miner
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Wow! Gay kids in Tennessee getting beaten up by PRINCIPALS and PASTORS in the same week! Tenneessee is happening faster than Morgan Jon Fox can make movies about it!

Charles
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

My God, now the principal turns out to be “the bully”. In my day dress codes at High School were very strict. They could send you home for a nearly any reason if the administration thought you were dressed improperly. But, the could not beat you up.

Tom in Lazybrook
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

The Principal has always been the bully on this. He’s been working to stop the group for about six months now. Apparently, the GSA people have claimed that there have been teachers willing to sponsor the group, but strangely, those sponsorships have all been withdrawn.

Timothy Kincaid
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Lucrese

Isn’t it lovely how so many systems (schools, police, etc) get to be in charge of investigating themselves of any offenses, as if they would ever be impartial?

I’m sure it may have happened, but I can’t recall a single instance in which a police investigation has ever found police officers or a department to be as guilty (with overwhelming evidence) as they declare others to be (with minimal evidence).

In Fullerton where six police officers beat a schizophrenic man to death – on parking surveillance tape, with police recordings, and a host of witnesses – the internal investigation still hasn’t concluded any wrongdoing. The main officer being tried for murder is still receiving salary.

If a local radio newstalk team (John and Ken) hadn’t made it their primary focus for weeks, it’s unlikely that the DA would have touched the case.

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