EXCLUSIVE: Tennessee High School Principal Responds

9 Sep

Sequoya High School Principal Maurice Moser

Normally, when I get a reply from someone having to do with an article I’d recently posted – I’d just add an update to the end of the post. But the conversation I just had with Principal Maurice Moser of Sequoya High School warrants it’s very own post.

I wrote earlier about senior Nathan Carroll, a student at Sequoya who was trying to start a Gay Straight Alliance, but was met with a threat of suspension from the principal. I put in a call earlier and left a message for the principal and I just heard back.

According to Moser, he found that students were having verbal arguments about the potential Gay Straight Alliance in classrooms and it was “disturbing the educational environment.” He went on to say that he was exercising his rights as principal to then stop the petitions and all discussions of the GSA forming. I then asked him if he considered students getting bullied and beaten as a disturbance to the educational environment? He replied that if a student reports it and has sufficient proof that they were bullied, then the bullies are “dealt with accordingly.”

I then went on to tell him that many students are afraid of reporting this kind of bullying because they don’t want to or are not yet ready to come out of the closet. I mentioned that a GSA would actually give LGBT kids some of the courage they need to speak up about this kind of torture they go through on a daily basis. He said many parents would argue that a GSA would do just the opposite – when I asked him to explain what “just the opposite” meant, he replied “you’re a smart guy, you can figure it out.”

I asked Mr. Moser what the process for a new club like the GSA would be and he informed me that the students would need to find a faculty sponsor and that the students were having trouble finding one. He went on to tell me about a faculty sponsor for several clubs that had transferred schools this summer. Moser then assisted in finding faculty sponsors for several clubs at the school. He said he spent a good deal of time recruiting faculty members to fill in the holes left by the former faculty member.

Naturally, I asked him why the students would be responsible for finding this faculty sponsor, when clearly he had just helped out several other clubs in finding theirs. He was noticeably flustered and said that he wasn’t “forcing” any faculty member to be a sponsor to a club and that while he helped many existing clubs find sponsors, he could never help find one for a new club.

His disdain for these students trying to start a GSA came through several times during our conversation and he implied more than once that his rights as a Principal of a high school trumped the rights of students trying to fight bullying and anti-gay harassment.

I hope that there is a faculty member at Sequoya High School who will sign on to sponsor these students – they clearly need some protections from a less-than-supportive principal.

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25 Responses to “EXCLUSIVE: Tennessee High School Principal Responds”

  1. Robert September 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Is it also not the responsibility of all educators alike to promote diversity?

  2. Nathan Black September 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Thanks for the update! What can we do to help them recruit a faculty sponsor?

    • Ben October 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

      Find either an openly gay teacher, or an elderly married, preferably female one, at that school to sponsor it. Good luck with that!

  3. Scott Rose September 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    The students circulating petitions against the formation of a GSA are engaging in harassment and bullying, but this principal has abdicated his responsibility to stop them from harassing and bullying the students interested in a GSA.

  4. Scott Rose September 9, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Contact the Monroe County Schools Superintendent, Joseph Burke, and ask him why this principal isn’t enforcing the Monroe County Schools anti-discrimination policy, which can be found at this link:

    http://www.boardpolicy.net/documents/detail.asp?iFile=8689&iType=6&iBoard=28

    The whole school conduct policy includes mention that school clubs are an extension of the educational experience at the school. At the above link, the policy states that discrimination will not be tolerated. In part, the definition of discrimination reads that nobody shall do anything that unreasonably interferes with a student’s educational opportunities. Obviously, if a GSA forms, it does not at all take away from the education opportunities of those who may object to it. Conversely, those objecting to it, if they succeed in squelching it, are taking away from the educational opportunities of those who wish to be part of a GSA. Will the Superintendent order the Principal to enforce this anti-discrimination policy?

    • Frank Slobusky October 7, 2011 at 11:20 am #

      Wrong Monroe County! This took place in Tennessee, not Florida.

  5. Patrick ONeill September 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    I hope he has contacted the ACLU – they love suing school districts that act like this one.

    • Rebecca Long Lucas September 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      I have an idea, Mr. Moser…Maybe you should step up and volunteer to be the GSA sponsor. Based on your responses in this interview, I think you need to learn more about the experiences of the students (and the faculty and staff) in your school–including the ones who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.

    • Carina Saavedra October 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      is this who I think it is?

  6. Michael Leslie September 11, 2011 at 3:20 am #

    Please sign the petition asking for the Monroe County School system to permit a GSA at Sequoyah High School. Make the petition even more powerful by writing a thoughtful and respectful message about why you are signing. And please ask all your friends to sign as well!

    Petition Link: http://chn.ge/sqhgsa

    You can also post messages of support to the kids on their facebook page:

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gaystraight-Alliance-Sequoyah-HIGH-School/182724315133815

  7. Rachel September 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this and getting the word out for my old high school!! It’s this kind of behavior from Moser and other school officials that have snuffed out any hope we have had before.. I will not let that happen again, the students who came after me WILL have this, I will make sure of it!

  8. Steven Roberts October 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    Well I’m not surprised at this. this “Principal Maurice Moser” seems a little bigoted. I hope those students find the help they need.

  9. Carina Saavedra October 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    I have a feeling that the lack of a faculty adviser might, unfortunately, have to do with pressure to not support the group (threats to be fired or some such)

  10. Edwina Duke (@KJCpoplover101) October 5, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    useless guy. i love how he can’t answer when the guy asks him why he can’t find a faculty sponsor 4 them when he did it 4 other school clubs. he’s not serious.

  11. Monroe Co Teacher October 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    This is a completely skewed post written by someone who obviously posts information as fact before substantiating. As to your post referencing your discussion with Mr. Moser, I find it interesting that you could hear his emotions through the phone having never met or talked with him before. My hope is that those of you who jump on this bandwagon without knowing the full story will rethink just believing everything you hear or read. One day the misinformation just might be in regard to you.

    • Jamie McGonnigal November 1, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

      You didn’t have the conversation with this principal did you? Can you explain why 4 different teachers no expressed interest in sponsoring the GSA and after a meeting with this principal, changed their minds? How is this not bullying? Moser is a bigot. And I DID talk with him. I had a phone conversation for nearly 30 minutes with him. This is based on my discussions with him. Try reading before judging or assuming.

      • Monroe Co Teacher November 17, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

        I did read your post. I read all of the other responses as well. I find it extremely ironic that those who preach tolerance and acceptance of all, are so quick to jump on the hater bandwagon when someone appears to have a differing opinion. Mr. Moser is a kind man, I actually know him and have for years. He is passionate about the education of young people. I have yet to meet one person who has offered to sponsor the club. If they did, the club would now exist. Oh, and in response to the person who said that they couldn’t in fear for their job obviously knows nothing about education and the steps one must go through to dismiss a teacher. Not that they would do so, but I mean come on! Really?!? These principals and teachers don’t do their job for the great pay! They care about their students- all of them! The school is for learning! Any drama that detracts from learning taking place does not belong during the school day. Period.

      • Jamie McGonnigal November 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

        Well, the students know of at least 4 teachers who were interested in sponsoring the club. They met with Moser, and all of a sudden they were no longer interested. He has shown quite clearly his violent tendencies towards gay people and those who support them.

        And a differing opinion is one thing. Threatening children with suspension for the mere mention of starting a gay straight alliance is not a differing opinion. We are well aware that teachers don’t make much money and while they may not be fearing for their jobs per se, we all know there are plenty of other ways a principal or superintendent can make the life of a teacher a living hell.

        And if Christian organizations can be on school property and supported 150% and have that not detract from learning, there is zero evidence that students wishing to defray the effects of anti-gay bullying can only improve matters. A study released this week has proven that gay straight alliances improves the learning environment at every school which has allowed one.

        Can you let us know your name if you are actually a Monroe County teacher?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] was threatened with suspension should he continue to pursue that course of action. I followed up by speaking with Principal Maurice Moser, who informed me that the only reason the GSA was not possible was due to the fact they [...]

  2. Principal Assaults Student For Wearing Tee Advocating Gay-Straight Alliance | The New Civil Rights Movement - October 4, 2011

    [...] was threatened with suspension should he continue to pursue that course of action. I followed up by speaking with Principal Maurice Moser, who informed me that the only reason the GSA was not possible was due to the fact they couldn’t [...]

  3. Principal Assaults Pro-Gay Student, School District Lies to Protect Him « Talk About Equality - October 5, 2011

    [...] my conversation with Principal Maurice Moser, Chris’ story was no surprise to me. Moser came across combative and angry when discussing [...]

  4. LGBT Discrimination by School Leadership Disgraceful « Raising Queer Kids - October 6, 2011

    [...] minds after meeting with Moser about it. We’ve read that Moser has admitted that in the past, when other clubs needed sponsors, he helped them out – but this time he refused to [...]

  5. Tennessee Principal’s Reaction to GSA T-Shirt Raises the Question: Who’s Really Causing the Disruption Here? | Find A Local Lawyer – Find Your Attorney - October 6, 2011

    [...] minds after meeting with Moser about it. We’ve read that Moser has admitted that in the past, when other clubs needed sponsors, he helped them out – but this time he refused to [...]

  6. Maurice Moser: Big (and apparently bulletproof) Man « modchen dot com - October 7, 2011

    [...] background on the story from Talk About Equality. doesn’t Moser sound like a charming, reasonable guy, even if he IS a fascist son of a whore? [...]

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