Central Valley High School teacher David Cole reported instances of homophobia to school administrators in February 2019. Days later a school resource officer showed up at Cole’s home, ordered him to exit his house, and threatened at intimidated him with a gun. Cole is now suing The City of Ceres, the Ceres Police Department, and Lorenzo Beltran, the officer he alleges showed up at his house that fateful day.
Cole recalling the incident to The Modesto Bee said,
It scares me to just look out my front door and remember it.There are hedges in our front yard and I look around every hedge now when I come home.”
The alleged altercation happened on the morning of February 15, 2019, when Cole claims Lorenzo Beltran, the school resource officer arrived at Cole’s house demanding he accompany him and another officer to the school – which was closed for the break – if he did not quit his job. Cole repeatedly asked them to leave and was only able to flee when his partner of 30 years heard the arguing and opened the front door allowing Cole to escape and enter his own home.
The incident and harassment have taken a toll on Cole and his partner Moon Trent. According to the Modesto Bee,
Cole lost 75 pounds and has been plagued by depression and several other ailments since the encounter. In addition to himself, he said he feared for the safety of his partner. The couple now hesitate to reveal their sexual orientation in the area, Cole said—feeling less comfortable than they did in the 1990s, when the pair founded a pioneering LGBTQ social club at a local community college.
Cole now works at a different school as a special education teacher. He was awarded a $50k settlement from the Ceres Unified School District in 2020 after being fired a year earlier. Van Longyear, the attorney for the city and Beltran had this to say,
We have filed an answer to the complaint that categorically denies all claims of wrongdoing. We believe that the true motive behind this scathingly defamatory complaint will be revealed during the formal Discovery phase of the case.”
However, the court case plays out Cole is trying to regain some kind of normalcy. A queer activist for decades his love of teaching and for his community has not diminished, but he is changed,
“Now we’re scared to even be who we are. That complete turnaround in my life to go from starting Rainbow Generation, the first queer club in the Central Valley at a school, to being terrified and not wanting the police to know it’s me or know that I’m gay. That’s where I’m at: just terrified of being outside in Ceres and at home.”