Michael Henderson, a former cheerleading coach at Murrieta Valley High School in California, has experienced a groundswell of support from the students of his school, which fired him in June, reports Queerty.
The school district received an anonymous letter that prompted an investigation by school officials who made the decision to let him go. Henderson believes that him being gay played a significant role in their decision.
The ex-students of Henderson gathered on July 14 wearing the Murrieta Valley High School colours in solidarity with their coach. According to Patch, the students held signs saying “Save Coach Mike” and “Bring Back Coach Mike”.
Kendell Winters, a senior high school student said, “He always wants the best for you… I hope we’re able to get him back.” A mother of one of the students said, “The kids loved him… They are heartbroken..
Henderson had been a cheer coach for Murrieta Valley High School for three years and was loved by his students and their parents. During his tenure as coach, he led the team to a 4th place finish at the 2021 National Cheerleading Championship. This success came only days before the school fired him, prompting Henderson to question the reasons behind the decision, reports Queerty.
“There was no hint that anything was wrong,” Henderson said. “I never saw the letter. I wasn’t even given a chance to respond. I was never interviewed about any of it.”
The investigation did lead to parents being interviewed where, according to LGBTQ Nation, the question of Henderson’s sexual orientation was brought up. Henderson intends to sue the school district over wrongful termination.
The investigation was headed by District Board Member Paul Diffley. Henderson’s lawyer says that Diffley is a devout Mormon, which could play a role with bias in the case towards the coach. The phone-call interviews that Diffley conducted with parents and faculty, along with the overall investigation into the letter impeded Henderson’s due process rights as he was not privy to any details and not provided the opportunity to defend himself.
LGBTQ Nation reports that after his termination, dozens of students and families attended a meeting of the school district’s Board Of Trustees where they voiced their explicit support for their former cheer coach. Henderson continues to coach students off campus at Corona-based Prime Cheer and Stunt, reports Patch.