Students have staged a walk-out at a Christian school in Colorado after a gay volleyball coach accused the school of forcing him out of his job.
Inoke Tonga explained the details in a social media post. He said school officials pushed him out of the job during a tense meeting at Valor Christian High School.
He was head coach of girl’s volleyball at the school. However the officials told him his sexuality posed a “danger” to the students he coached.
“We can’t just have you hanging around the kids if you identify that way,” Tonga claimed he was told.
He had to either “denounce being gay” and “become a child of God” or resign from the job.
“I sat in that room for an hour and a half being belittled by men who knew nothing about who I am, what I’ve done in life, what obstacles I’ve overcome, the understanding I have of the living scriptures, and more importantly the love I have for my savior and lord, God,” Tonga wrote.
However he refused to denounce his homosexuality and as a result knew his job at the school was over.
“With my head held high, and with tears ready to be shed for hours, even days, I walked away. [I knew] that my journey as a coach at Valor Christian had come to an end,” he said.
“I was not going to ‘denounce identifying as a gay man.’”
Students at Christian school protest anti-gay policies
However on Tuesday (August 24), around 50 students at Valor Christian High School staged a walk-out over Tonga’s resignation.
They rallied outside the school to “show support for all LGBT+ students and show discrimination and bigotry won’t be tolerated.”
“Reading the statements from Coach Inoke broke my heart. Hearing that they called him a danger to the school,” one 16-year-old student, Lucy, told CBS News.
“For every queer teen sitting at this school right now, to hear that they are a danger, breaks their heart.”
Lucy explained the students want no more teachers sacked for their sexual orientation.
The school must also allow queer students to attend school “without fear of being reprimanded by the deans,” she said.
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School says coach ‘had to live in accordance with school’s beliefs’
A Valor Christian High School spokesperson said the school requires its “staff, faculty and volunteer leaders to agree with Valor’s Christian beliefs… and to live in accordance with such beliefs.”
The spokesperson also accused Tonga of “misrepresenting” the matter and “wished him the very best”.
“Valor became aware of a Facebook posting by coach Inoke. [It] suggested he may not support Valor’s beliefs pertaining to sexuality and marriage,” the spokesperson said.
“Valor’s campus pastor and athletic director initiated a conversation with coach Inoke to explore this matter further.
“Following this discussion, coach Inoke provided a statement to Valor. [He] concluded he does not support Valor’s beliefs, and he requested a separation from Valor.
“Based on this conclusion, Valor agrees that a separation is appropriate.”
In Australia, a former teacher at a Christian school in Sydney recently spoke out about her sacking after she came out as gay.
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