The students said they also wanted to “show the administration that discrimination and bigotry will not be tolerated.”
The children are the future and this is proof of that. Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, allegedly forced their school's volleyball team coach to quit because he was gay. Inoke Tonga took to social media to share that he was asked by the campus pastor and athletic director to either "denounce being gay" or quit his job. He wrote: "With my head held high, and with tears ready to be shed for hours, even days, I walked away knowing that my journey as a coach at Valor Christian had come to an end – I was not going to 'denounce identifying as a gay man.'"
The school management made it seem like it was entirely Tonga's choice to quit his job as a coach and that was what his volleyball team was told. He went on to say, "I speak out with my experience with no intention of wanting sympathy. I speak out because I have taught my kids (yes these kids are MY KIDS) to embrace who they are and learn to love themselves. To stick up for one another and to stand up against those who harm any of their own. I speak out for once in my life, to show MY KIDS that I too, have to live up to the expectations I have set forth for them."
Valor Christian students walking out of class today after a volleyball coach says he was forced to choose between being gay or being an employee. The story tonight @CBSDenver at 5 and 6. pic.twitter.com/LooTXXVzW5— Kati Weis (@KatiWeis) August 24, 2021
It only goes to show that Tonga has taught his kids well. The students of Valor Christian High School walked out of class in protest of this unfair dismissal of their beloved volleyball teacher. Lucy Sarkissian, one of the students who organized the protest, according to NY Daily News, said, “Reading the statements from Coach Inoke broke my heart, to hear that they called him a danger to the school.” She added, “I know that for every queer teen who’s sitting at the school right now to hear they are a danger breaks their heart.”
About 50 Valor Christian High School students walked out of classes on Tuesday afternoon to support a volleyball coach, who says he was forced to leave his job over his sexuality. https://t.co/azPtTZcgm9— The Denver Post (@denverpost) August 25, 2021
Students demanded their coach be reinstated and walked out of classes in support of Tonga as well as the LGBTQ students at the school. They carried signs that read “Love is love” and “Religion is not an excuse.” In a post regarding the walkout, the students said they also wanted to “show the administration that discrimination and bigotry will not be tolerated.” A Valor School alumnus is also collecting stories from current and former LGBTQ students regarding any discrimination they faced at the school. Already more than 40 people have shared incidents that have occurred at the school.
A volleyball coach at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch says he was forced to resign because athletic leadership found out he is gay. We have his reaction, and the school's response at 10pm. pic.twitter.com/Cuyn5xStvR— Sloan Dickey Denver7 (@SloanDickey) August 23, 2021
Valor in a statement said, as per CBS Denver, “In connection with his employment, Coach Inoke signed a statement affirming his alignment with Valor’s beliefs and community standards. Last week, Valor became aware of a Facebook posting by Coach Inoke that suggested he may not support Valor’s beliefs pertaining to sexuality and marriage. Valor’s campus pastor and athletic director initiated a conversation with Coach Inoke to explore this matter further.” Tonga was asked in his nearly 90-minute interview if he had posted something inappropriate or had undergone a lifestyle change recently.
"And of course, I said no – I am not one to post anything on my social media that would be inappropriate," Tonga explained in the post. "Eventually they asked if I did an interview, or posted anything about being gay. My answer was yes. Of course, I advocate for LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, especially those struggling with finding a relationship with God." He then recalled how the culture document of Valor Christian that was given to him during the interview process didn’t mention anything about their stance on LGBTQ+. “We see the signs that say ‘love thy neighbor,’” Sarkissian explained as per Gay Times. “If we’re truly called to love thy neighbor, that means to love your gay neighbor, love your trans neighbor, love your queer neighbor, and this is not loving thy neighbor.”