Tennessee HS Student Threatened With Suspension for Attempting to Start GSA

9 Sep

Nathan Carroll

Tennessee High School Senior Nathan Carroll has been bullied most of his life for being gay. The openly-gay teen attends Sequoyah High School in Madisonville, TN and decided a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) is needed at his school.

Nathan started a petition at his school to get support to start a GSA while kids opposing it started a similar petition. Despite Nathan’s efforts and the nearly 150 teens who’ve signed the petition, when he brought it to Principal Maurice Moser, he was threatened with suspension should he proceed in trying to form the GSA. Additionally, the Principal said that any students found with one of Nathan’s petitions would have the petition torn up and thrown away and that they be sent immediately to his office for further punishment.

Of course students are legally allowed to start the club should they find an adviser, which according to WATE Channel 6 News in Tennessee, is close to happening.

We put in a call today to Principal Moser and are awaiting a response as to why he would threaten to suspend students wanting to start this club.

UPDATE: Please see our follow up Exclusive: Tennessee High School Principal Responds

The school already hosts a student club called Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). According to the FCA Website:

“Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ.”

No clubs recognizing any other faith or denomination can be found on the school’s website.

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21 Responses to “Tennessee HS Student Threatened With Suspension for Attempting to Start GSA”

  1. Bob September 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    How many threats of lawsuits is it going to take to make school administrators understand that this sort of thing is completely illegal and that they’re going to end up costing their districts untold thousands of dollars that would be better spent on actually educating their students?

  2. Nathan Black September 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    The school has no legal standing and I’m sure the board/district will bring this principal into line real fast. If not, the ACLU loves these kinds of cases.

    What I really want to comment on is the courage and the tenacity that Nathan is demonstrating in his school. That is SO powerful. I promise you that there are other queer kids in his school who, though they may be terrified to come out, now know they have someone on their side.

    Love is winning in Tennessee, thanks to Nathan.
    -signed,
    another rockstar champion of equality and love also named Nathan :)

  3. Scott Rose September 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is notoriously anti-gay. Many of its adult leaders are known to advocate “pray away the gay therapy.” Its membership contract asks the signer to abstain from homosexuality for life. Where the Fellowship gains dominance of a school’s athletic department, even Christian supporters of LGBT equality are frozen out of the school’s sports . . and never mind out gay athletes, and athletes of minority religions. Jerry Buell, the Mount Dora High School Teacher who published anti-gay hate speech on Facebook and then issued threats to students through the pages of the Orlando Sentinel is his school’s faculty advisor for the Fellowship; he has boasted of having grown it to the point where it had to move from his classroom to the cafeteria to hold its meetings.

  4. darkphoenixbc September 9, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    Although I have no doubt that the actions of the principal and the school will be primarily attributed to their “religious views” I’d like to be at least one voice in the dark that says that homophobia and intolerance are NOT inherent attributes of all Christians, and I would encourage the blogger to be careful about making these associations (ie. making the last word in a post like this a reference to the singularity of religious representation at this school). It may be that there aren’t enough students of other religious affiliations to merit a student organization in their name, or there may be the numbers but not the interest.

    • Jamie McGonnigal September 9, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

      Or there may be plenty of students but no principal approval or faculty adviser willing to take it on. You can’t tell me that out of 1600+ students in a school that there aren’t a few students who aren’t Christian. In fact, I can guarantee you that there are well over 100 students at the school that are LGBT.

      I made the reference to the Christian club because that was the only one among their list of organizations which clearly categorizes students based solely on their belief system and not on academia, athletics or volunteerism.

      • danielmonroe123 September 9, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

        Really? So you live in the area right? You’d better or else your guarantee is useless.

      • Jamie McGonnigal September 9, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

        No, I don’t live in the area, but know that the number of gay families in Tennessee grew 58% last year according to the census – and those are just couple living together. As I don’t hide behind a bigoted, “protected” blog, I’m happy to provide you with whatever information you like. Interesting how you assume that because a person doesn’t live in an area, they can’t be educated on facts about the area is rather ignorant. Best wishes to you in your homophobic bigoted journey – must be tiresome to spend all your time hating someone else.

  5. Local Citizen September 10, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    I am a local resident of 16 years in Monroe and neighboring McMinn County. Sequoyah High School was opened in 1995 and joined Vonore and Madisonville High Schools. There are two other High Schools in the Monroe County School System, Sweetwater High School and Tellico Plains High School.

    I also believe there are more teens,as well as adults, in the area that are LGBTQ but due to the circumstances at home, in school or in the community, they are not coming out. Some may live in fear of being kicked out of their home. Some live in fear of being bullied, harassed or rejected by the community or while at school.

    I graduated from a small town high school back in 1987. I hid my sexuality until I was in my late 20′s or early 30′s after I had moved 400 miles from my hometown. Back then you could not be open about your sexuality or gender identity. You were made to feel ashamed and lived in fear that someone would find out and broadcast it to everyone. Once “the news” would get out, your life would be made pure hell. You would be teased, bullied or worse. Not only would you be an outcast, your friends and family would be outcasts also. I never socialized, went to dances or other school functions or hung out with people of my age. I felt isolated. I have found out in more recent years that I wasn’t alone. There are other classmates of mine who came out later in their lives also.

    The world has changed a lot since then but it hasn’t changed enough if there are kids still feeling the same as I did over 20 years ago. I wish I was a faculty member because I would be the first one to stand up and sponsor these kids.

  6. Michael Leslie September 11, 2011 at 2:54 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

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  11. Jeanne October 8, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    It is sad how close-minded these students and their principal are. Having people deny who they are will hurt them so much in the long-run. This student is already bullied and overall unaccepted by his school, and now the principal is more or less enforcing this. He sounds like a homophobic.. and you know what they say about homophobics.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. EXCLUSIVE: Tennessee High School Principal Responds « Talk About Equality - September 9, 2011

    [...] 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 [...]

  2. 43 House Memebers Slam Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito for Ethics Scandals; Prop 8 Opponents: California Civilians Can’t Defend Case Against State; NY: Fundraiser Fetes GOP Same-Sex Marriage Senators; and more… » DailyQueerNews.com - September 10, 2011

    [...] Tennessee High School Student Threatened With Suspension for Attempting to Start GSA. Read more [...]

  3. TN Principal Assaults Student for Wearing Pro-Gay T-Shirt « Talk About Equality - October 4, 2011

    [...] few weeks ago, we brought you the story of Sequoya High School in Tennessee, where senior Nathan Carroll was attempting to start a Gay [...]

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

    [...] McGonnigal at Talk About Equality today offers more details: A few weeks ago, we brought you the story of Sequoya High School in Tennessee, where senior Nathan Carroll was attempting to start a Gay [...]

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

    [...] his principal for it. The Tennessee high school was in the news recently when that same principal threatened to suspend students for even discussing the proposed gay-straight [...]

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