Will Gay Men Ever be Welcome in Religious Establishments?

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Another day, another example of why we still need to fight for gay rights. And another example of why church, state and education shouldn’t mix – but that’s a conversation for a different time!

Matthew Gerhold, a music teacher in Iowa, found himself in front of the honorable Judge Blair Bennett earlier this month while fighting for his unemployment eligibility. Luckily, Judge Bennett ruled in favor of Matthew on May 2, but this story is way more complicated than that!

It started when Mr. Gerhold interviewed to teach music at Valley Lutheran High School in Cedar Valley, Iowa in 2021. Being that the school is a religious institution, school officials urged Gerhold to keep his sexuality a secret. They did not want him to discuss his orientation with students and, even worse, they didn’t want him to date. Because any employer should have control over your personal life like that, right? Despite reservations from both parties, Gerhold accepted the position.

His tenure at Valley Lutheran High was going as well as expected until this January when Matthew’s phone was hacked, and an anonymous criminal started blackmailing him. Pay up or have your personal information blown all over the internet. When Matthew didn’t bow to the blackmailer, his information and unspecified personal pictures were leaked to his employer’s official Facebook page.

Because of the dox, Gerhold was placed on administrative leave. Due to the blackmailer blowing his cover, Matthew had inadvertently violated the terms of his hiring and he was informed by a school pastor that he would be fired at an upcoming meeting. Matthew resigned and attempted to accept unemployment from Valley Lutheran High, but the school blocked his request – and that’s how they ended up in court with the judge ruling in Matthew’s favor.

Gerhold told Iowa Capital Dispatch:

“My sexual identity has absolutely nothing to do with my career in music and my love for music. If the church as a whole doesn’t want to use me for whatever they are striving to achieve, then I shall go somewhere else that would love to have me to live out my vocation for others.”

Law enforcement, meanwhile, has “no way of tracking” the blackmailer. 

Good luck to Matthew in his future endeavors!


Sources: LGBTQ Nation, Iowa Capital Dispatch

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