Education | Gay-Straight Alliances | News | Tennessee

Tennessee High School Principal Assaults Student Over Gay T-Shirt

The principal of Sequoyah High School in Tennessee assaulted a A 17-year-old senior after he wore a T-shirt to school expressing support for a Gay-Straight Alliance, the ACLU of Tennessee reports:

Sequoyah 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 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 Madisonville Police Department.

“All I want is to have a GSA at my school to help stop the bullying against gays and lesbians and their friends who support them,” Sigler said. “The shirt was a way to use my voice and show my support for the club. The way I was treated shows even more why we need a GSA here.”

The ACLU has sent a letter to the school district demanding the student's right to freedom of expression be protected.

Said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee: “It is totally unacceptable that a young man who was peacefully exercising his First Amendment rights would have his speech shut down by the public school principal. Last week’s incident clearly illustrates the hostile environment LGBT students face at Sequoyah High School. Given this context, it’s especially important that supportive voices like Sigler’s can be heard in order to overcome the school’s resistance to a GSA.”

You may recall that I posted in early September that students had been threatened with suspension for trying to start a GSA at Sequoyah.

Watch a news report on it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Any principal who physically assaults a student needs to be fired - doesn't really matter what the reason was.

    Posted by: mike128 | Oct 4, 2011 2:13:04 PM

  2. The adult physically assaulted a minor,criminal charges should be filed immediately. the parents should sue the principal and the school district.

    Posted by: PLAINTOM | Oct 4, 2011 2:19:34 PM

  3. This story more or less highlights what LGBT+straight supporting students and faculty have to deal with in these schools on an every day basis. It's beyond the point of even harassment. This is terrorism.

    This is what we're fighting against, people. This young man and his friends too are all so strong for standing up for the right thing in the face of such barbarity.

    Posted by: Francis | Oct 4, 2011 2:21:15 PM

  4. Sigler is the big man. The principal is the pathetic sniveling dirt bag.

    Posted by: David R. | Oct 4, 2011 2:24:28 PM

  5. Time for that district and that obviously unstable and dangerous "principal" to be removed from the authority of children once and for all. Time for truth and justice to prevail over intimidation,harrassment and physical abuse. This is really sick and pathetic to even read in 2011.

    Posted by: SFShawn | Oct 4, 2011 2:28:17 PM

  6. WTF!!!

    Why is the ACLU involved???? This is not a civil case this is a CRIMINAL case. The principal touched him and threatened him!!!!!

    He should be GONE. No excuse at all!

    Posted by: Rin | Oct 4, 2011 2:32:23 PM

  7. This principal himself is one of the major reasons this school needs a branch of the Gay-Straight Alliance.

    Posted by: trees | Oct 4, 2011 2:34:38 PM

  8. where are the Dakota Ary defenders now? ;-)

    this is astonishing. i hope this case blows up BIG time.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Oct 4, 2011 2:36:26 PM

  9. Voice your disgust directly to the school:

    Sequoyah High School
    3128 Hwy. 411
    Madisonville, TN 37354

    Maurice Moser, Principal
    Rhonda Sarshuri, Assistant Principal
    Gary Cole, Freshmen Academy Principal
    Telephone Numbers

    (423) 442-9230
    (423) 442-2383

    Posted by: Mykelb | Oct 4, 2011 2:39:38 PM

  10. Another reason that I'm embarrassed to call myself a Tennessean. The treatment that this student and his family received from the staff at Sequoyah High School (whose salaries are funded in pary by my tax dollars) is unexcusable. If my son were treated that way, criminal charges would be filed.

    Posted by: Tom | Oct 4, 2011 2:55:12 PM

  11. File criminal assault charges. Now.

    Posted by: Rich F. | Oct 4, 2011 2:58:55 PM

  12. These parents handled it the right way going to the police and ACLU. Bravo to them. The principal doesn't stand a chance

    Posted by: Mike C | Oct 4, 2011 3:12:02 PM

  13. I wonder if NOM will come out and support this kid's right to free speech like they did for Dakota

    Posted by: kieran | Oct 4, 2011 3:13:04 PM

  14. One good thing coming out of this is proof that there is hope in future generations... even in Tennessee

    Posted by: Married in MA | Oct 4, 2011 3:13:21 PM

  15. You can also "anonymously" text the school to report:

    Anonymous Text: 423-252-7503
    Report drugs, weapons, threats, bullying, disruptive behavior

    I just texted to report Principal Mosler as being a bully. Who's the big man now?

    Posted by: We've got YOUR back Chris Sigler! | Oct 4, 2011 3:14:02 PM

  16. This is one Christofascist bully that needs to fired and prosecuted.

    Posted by: DearComrade | Oct 4, 2011 3:21:23 PM

  17. Every single school like this needs to be dragged into court and sued. Appealing to these hillbillies' senses of fairness won't work, but the expense of litigation sure will.

    Posted by: Justin | Oct 4, 2011 3:28:47 PM

  18. You should also send an e-mail or call the Director of Schools of Monroe County Schools. I sent one encouraging him to take administrative action immediately. The heat should be turned up on the administration to make them aware the nation is watching. I told him that just as they try to teach students the consequences of their actions will follow them through life, this is a situation where that should be exercised with Moser. Physical abuse should never be tolerated in a school, especially by an employee.

    Lowry, Mike
    Director of Schools

    Posted by: RBearSAT | Oct 4, 2011 3:31:20 PM

  19. @Little Kiwi these two incidents are not the same. To bring a 15yo boy on an unrelated position is completely irrational. Apparently you can't seem to see the difference. This is an adult educator who acted irrationally. Dakota Awry is a 15yo student who expressed his opinion.

    Posted by: RBearSAT | Oct 4, 2011 3:40:39 PM

  20. If they filed criminal charges then none of the rest of this matters. Assault means you don't get to work with kids again in the future, it also means jail until bail is posted...

    Posted by: Rin | Oct 4, 2011 3:44:54 PM

  21. Sorry, there is no way if he filed assault and battery charges with the police that the principal is still there, and if he

    How on earth do you explain bumping your chest against a minor's as anything other than assault???

    Posted by: Rin | Oct 4, 2011 3:48:41 PM

  22. Assaulting a minor. That's where you know you've gone too far.

    FILE and have that person fired! Isn't this the second incident (LGBT related) revolving this specific school, or is it not?

    Seriously assault alone should be enough reason that someone's head will roll. Do it now.

    Posted by: Shello | Oct 4, 2011 3:56:48 PM

  23. The principal needs to be fired and charges need to be pressed. Period.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Oct 4, 2011 4:13:11 PM

  24. I don't know if the principle's behavior would rise to the level of assault. It certainly qualifies as intimidation.

    Rather than send comments to the principle, it might be more effect to contact the website.

    Social change is happening everywhere. It may be slower in coming to Tennessee than some places like Massachusetts but it is faster than some places, such as West Virginia.

    Posted by: Charlie | Oct 4, 2011 4:17:25 PM

  25. Has anyone looked at the mission of this school? Here it is from their website: Our mission is to provide a safe, educational environment with academic and technical programs that will prepare each student to enter post-secondary institutions and/or the work force upon graduation. AND the site posts a number for people to text the school about threats, guns, BULLYING, and disruptive behavior! Wonder what would happen if we all texted to 423-252-7503 to report the principal?

    Posted by: PFLAGer | Oct 4, 2011 4:23:35 PM

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