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Tennessee high school student: Principal assaulted me for wearing T-shirt in support of campus GSA

Sequoyah High School senior claims physical abuse after being asked to remove shirt

October 4, 2011 O&AN Staff Reports   Comments

According to ACLU of Tennessee, a 17-year-old senior at Sequoyah High School in Madisonville, Tenn. claims he was physically abused by his principal last week for wearing a T-shirt in support of efforts to establish a gay-straight alliance club on campus.

Sigler wore a homemade T-shirt to school last Tuesday that said “GSA: We’ve Got Your Back.” After repeated requests by school administration for Sigler to remove the shirt, he alleges that Principal Maurice Moser grabbed him by the arm and shoved him.

“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 Siglers have filed a report about the incident with the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.

“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,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. “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.”

“All students deserve a safe and respectful learning environment. Harassment, abuse or censorship of any student – regardless of sexual orientation – is absolutely reprehensible as well as illegal,” said Amanda Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “We expect the police to investigate this quickly and fairly, and take statements from all witnesses who were present.”

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