A gay cheerleading coach was fired at a California high school. Now, he has sued the school, and his students are fighting for his return.
The coach, Michael Henderson, 31, sued Murrieta Valley High School for wrongful termination due to his sexual orientation, reported Patch. He was dismissed from his job in mid-June.
Henderson served as the school’s head cheerleading coach for three years, leading the cheer team to the national championships in the past two years.
Student athletes and their families rallied together on Wednesday to support Henderson. Students held signs that read “Bring Back Coach Mike."
“He always wants the best for you,” Senior high school student Kendell Winters said. “I hope we're able to get him back.”
Henderson told Patch he had received a stellar review only days before he was fired.
A couple of days after the review, school officials said they had opened an investigation into a complaint sent to them in a letter.
"I never saw the letter," Henderson said. "I wasn't even given a chance to respond. I was never interviewed about any of it.
When school officials let him go, Henderson said they told him it was because they were taking the cheer program in a different direction.
Henderson’s lawyer said that the school district board member put in charge of the investigation had included a question about Henderson’s sexual orientation.
The school district declined to comment, according to Patch.
Kim Altenhofel, a parent of one of Henderson's cheerleaders, said both the investigating board member and the high school principal contacted her. From what she gathered, it sounded like school officials were looking into accusations that Henderson had verbally and emotionally abused students.
Altenhofel said she never saw any abuse. “The kids loved him.”