Christmas sale! $50 OFF every $200 you spend. Use code XMASPRIDE

Tennessee School Boots Teacher After He Started Gay Straight Alliance

by matt baume June 22, 2016

Chris Richeson

How is this still a thing that happens? A school in Tennessee has refused to renew a contract with a beloved teacher, and gee whiz what a coincidence, it happened right after he helped some kids start a GSA.

Harassment at the Union County High School in Tennessee seems to be at epidemic proportions, with anonymous homophobic posters going up in the hallways. Sixty years ago, it would have been about black students; forty years ago, it might’ve been about Jews; now here we are in 2016 and apparently nobody’s learned anything from history.

After Chris Richeson helped some students start a GSA, he too became a target for harassment — from his coworkers. He says that school officials repeatedly pressured him to change the club, and stood in the way of club activities, even stuff as basic as making announcements.

Finally, the school told him they wouldn’t renew his contract, but not why. It isn’t too hard to guess.

Richeson says that there is literally zero record of any disciplinary activity against him, and that he had the highest performance rating it was possible for a teacher to have. So why else would they let him go?

It’s like in the 1970s, when California homophobes tried to put a bill on the ballot that would legalize the firing of any teacher even suspected of homosexuality. Back then, Harvey Milk helped defeat the measure. It’s a shame that Tennessee of 2016 is so far behind California of 1978.

He says that he’ll be leaving Tennessee, but his students aren’t so lucky. They’re stuck in a dangerous school that would rather sweep their very existence under the rug than protect them. Will there be another instructor at the school brave enough to stand up to this harassment and protect the kids left behind? Hopefully.

But it’s understandable that teachers would be afraid to take that step now. Instead, they may have to start something more secretive and underground — a hidden GSA, like how LGBTs had to creep around in the shadows in the 1950s. It’s ridiculous that in this day and age, we’re forcing kids to live like it’s the 1950s.

There’s a petition to reinstate Chris at the school. As of now it has 616 signatures. If we were him, we’d be reluctant to head back — maybe instead the petition should be for defending the ongoing existence of the school’s GSA.

matt baume
matt baume


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Think

This comic book writer you’ve never heard of is making characters gayer than ever

by David Reddish December 10, 2016

  “It’s nice to get some attention from the gay press about this series!” Andy Mangles, the leather-clad, teddy bear of a man says as he sits down for our interview with Queerty. It’s a fair point. Despite being one of the most prolific comic book writers in American, gay or straight, he’s not exactly [...]

Continue Reading →

Out SNL Star Kate McKinnon Is Getting Her Own Movie

by matt baume December 09, 2016

She will play Grunhilda, a witch who works in a school cafeteria.

Continue Reading →

Ad Executives Are Possessed By Demons Who Want Marriage Equality, Says Republican Lawmaker

by Derek de Koff December 09, 2016

Gordon James Klingenschmitt, Ph.D knows demonic possession when he sees it.

Continue Reading →