TN Principal Allegedly Assaults Teen Over Pro-Gay Shirt
The American Civil Liberties Union says it’s considering taking legal action against a Tennessee school district after a local principal allegedly assaulted a high school student for wearing a pro-gay T-shirt.
Chris Sigler wore a homemade T-shirt to Sequoyah High School in Madisonville last week with the phrase, “Gay Straight Alliance: We’ve Got Your Back.” Students at the East Tennessee school say they’ve tried forming a GSA at their campus for months, but have been met with resistance from school officials.
Sigler first wore the shirt last Tuesday but was told to cover it up. He then decided to wear it again that Friday, saying he knew he had the right to do so.
But the 17-year-old claims that his principal—Maurice Moser—confronted him about the shirt later that day in an empty classroom, with his sister present. The siblings say the administrator grabbed the boy’s arm, shoved him against the wall and verbally assaulted him. Their mother reported witnessing the incident when she arrived at the school to pick the teens up.
The Siglers have since filed a report with local authorities AND the ACLU has sent a letter to the district DEMANDING that it protect students’ right to free speech.
Amanda Goad–a staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT Project—says her group was already working with Sequoyah students because of their troubles forming a GSA. Now she says they’re focused on making sure the school respects students’ First Amendment rights.
GOAD: I don’t want to speak to the principal’s motivations or anybody else’s motivations at the school, but it’s a troubling pattern that we’re seeing on how they’re handling these GSA-related issues.
Goad says the ACLU will wait until Tuesday for an adequate response from the district. If not, she says they are “prepared to file suit.”