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Volleyball coach says Christian high school asked him to denounce being gay or leave his job



A volleyball coach claims that he lost his job after his employers at a religious high school in Colorado learned about his sexual orientation. Coach Tonga was allegedly asked by officials at Valor Christian High School to “denounce being gay” if he wished to keep his job. The 30-year-old health care administrator had just finished his first season as an assistant boys volleyball coach last spring and had been assigned to a similar spot with the girls’ program this fall.

Last week, when Tonga was called in for a meeting with Valor Christian’s athletic director and pastor he assumed it was about the head coaching spot for the boys’ volleyball team as it had become vacant over the summer.

To his surprise, the school officials allegedly confronted him about his sexuality, demanding to know if he was gay. Apparently, the pastor told him that, “parents pay too much money to have their kids be coached and taught by someone like you who identifies as a gay man,” recalled Tonga.

Understandably, the coach was in a state of shock as the recent meeting was a sharp contrast to the one he had a year ago while being hired for the boys’ program. “During the interview process, it was such an uplifting experience. We talked about spirituality,” he shared on Thursday. “My faith in Christ was evident to them. It [sexual orientation] was never an issue or even mentioned until someone came across a post on Facebook that I identified as a gay man.”

Meanwhile, the school agreed that they did in fact confront Tonga over his beliefs “pertaining to sexuality and marriage,” however, claim that he was the one who decided to quit on his own accord. In a statement to the outlet, the school acknowledged that it called Tonga was a meeting with its athletic director and pastor.

But said that they just wanted to address concerns about Tonga not supporting “Valor’s beliefs pertaining to sexuality and marriage.” The statement read, “Following this discussion, Coach Inoke provided a statement to Valor in which he concluded that 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.

But Tonga claims that the officials gave him a choice to denounce homosexuality or lose his position at the school. He also became aware that a day after being pushed out of his post, the school sent an email to the parents of volleyball players announcing his departure.

The news did not sit well with some students, who walked out of class this week in support of Tonga and Lauren Benner, the former Valor girls lacrosse coach, who claimed that she was pushed out of her post year due to her sexual orientation. Apparently, she came forward with the accusation after Tonga’s dismissal became public. As for Tonga, he says his Christian faith has been shaken ever since the incident. “Being gay, in the LGBTQ+ community and identifying as Christian can co-exist,” said Tonga. “That’s what I want to stress to my kids.”

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