Read More Atheist Republic On Aug. 19, Inoke Tonga — a volleyball coach at Valor Christian High School — was invited to meet before a session with his team. “Our interactions prior to that day were always so refreshing,” Tonga said. He happily complied with Brian Bonn, the Athletic Director, and the campus pastor’s request to meet.
They asked him repeatedly if there were “changes in lifestyle” that the school’s superiors should know. At first, it was not apparent what the meeting was about. There was no explanation, no briefing about the agenda of the meeting. Instead, Tonga was asked to confirm if he has posted any “inappropriate” content on his social media that may have violated the school’s values. He said no.
Not content with the response they were getting, the meeting quickly turned from ugly to worse. His colleagues pinned him regarding his social media posts about being gay. Tonga said yes, explaining that he is an “advocate for LGBTQ+, especially those struggling with finding a relationship with God.” That was not the answer they were looking for. The pastor, who repeatedly and deliberately mispronounced LGBTQ, was no longer holding back. The “gates were opened, and the questions came flooding,” as he said in his Instagram post.
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“Parents pay too much money to have their kids be coached and taught by someone like you,” said Tonga recalling what was said to him during the meeting.
After failing to convince Tonga that he just needed “direction,” he was ultimately left with two choices. He could denounce being gay and delete his social media posts regarding his identity and support for the LGBTQ+ community, or he can continue living as a gay man, true to himself, but he had to leave.
Tonga’s Instagram post gathered support from parents, students, and alumni. Students organized a walkout in support of Tonga and expressed their dismay with the school’s decision. A parent also expressed her disappointment, calling for the resignation of “whoever made the decision.” The school was quick to dismiss his narrative of the meeting and the entire incident.
An official statement from the school claims that Tonga “misrepresented many aspects of this matter” without explaining how the misrepresentation happened.
It’s not surprising that another teacher was previously forced to resign because of their sexual orientation. Former coach, Lauren Benner, was also forced to leave back in 2019 for being gay. After hearing of Tonga’s experience, she was inspired to share her own story. “I reached out to him right away, I told him he was not alone,” Benner told The Denver Post.