A volleyball coach at a Denver, Colorado school says he was “forced to resign” over his sexuality.
Inoke Tonga served as a coach at the Valor Christian High School between 2020 and 2021. But he says he was removed from his position after senior staff members discovered he was gay. For the devote Christian, working as a coach at a religious school was no problem. But it seems the school had a problem with him.
According to CBS Denver, the Tongan-American citizen was originally coaching boys JV volleyball, but then moved to coach the girls’ team. But around the time the varsity boys coach left, Tonga was called to a meeting between him, the school pastor, and the athletic director. Initially, Tonga thought the meeting was about him possibly taking over for the exiting coach. But, the meeting turned out to be about his sexual orientation instead.
As Valor Christian High School said in a statement, “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.”
In the meeting, Coach Inoke says he was asked if he had experienced any “changes in lifestyle” that the school should be aware of. The pair also asked Tonga whether he’d posted inappropriate things online. Apparently, the school officials had caught wind of a post on Facebook that revealed Tonga is gay. They then alleged that Tonga’s views do not adhere to the culture and beliefs of the school.
“I kept saying no to posting anything inappropriate because I first of all that’s not me. And honestly I don’t see anything inappropriate that I did post,” Tonga explained in an Instagram Post.
The school officials then outright asked Tonga if he posted online about being gay.
“My answer was yes,” Tonga wrote. “Of course I advocate for LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, especially those struggling with finding a relationship with God.”
And if you’re thinking, “What did you expect? LGBTQ people get fired from Christian schools all the time,” Tonga says there was no evidence of that at this school. He noted that Valor Christian High School didn’t mention anything in its school stance about LGBTQ issues. So, he had no idea being openly gay was prohibited. That is, until the meeting where the pastor told Tonga that being gay could be a “danger” to the institution and the students.
“They even went as far as telling me ‘parents pay too much money to have their kids be coached and taught by someone like you who identifies as a gay man,’” Tonga wrote.
“One of them even said ‘I don’t want to seem like I’m hanging a coaching position over your head to ‘convert’ you, but we just can’t have you in front of the kids if you identify that way,’” Tonga added. “The other followed by saying ‘and we will make an email for you to send out and make sure that it states that you are away for personal matters, so that way when you make your decision to accept God and our help, you can come back and they don’t have to know of your spiritual battle.’”
According to the Denver Post, Inoke Tonga has been openly criticizing the school since his forced departure. He says he does so for the Valor Christian students and faculty “silently battling accepting who they are, realize that the morals of the school and the beliefs of certain individuals do not get to decide if they are worthy of God’s love.”
“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,” Tonga added online. “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.”