A high school volleyball coach in Colorado is out of a job after his private Christian school employer looked at his social media and learned he was gay.
Inoke Tonga wrote about the experience on Instagram and Facebook, saying everything in his life was falling into place until he was suddenly called to a meeting where he was forced out of his job as head coach of the girl’s volleyball at Valor Christian High School in Highland Ranch.
According to Tonga, he was “belittled” during a 90-minute “spiritual connection” session with the campus pastor and athletic director last Thursday, where he claimed he was repeatedly asked about any “changes in lifestyle that were life-changing.”
The pastor and athletic director finally revealed that had seen a social media post and accused Tonga of being gay and going against the school’s culture and beliefs.
They told him he would need to “cut off that part of you who you think you are” by deleting all social media posts “that speak about being gay” and that he must “become a child of God.”
The alternative was he would have to leave.
“No more goals of getting married to the love of my life, who is a man,” Tonga wrote passionately.
After sitting “in that room for an hour and a half being belittled by men who knew nothing about” him, Tonga made the only real decision possible for him.
“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,” he wrote. “I was not going to denounce identifying as a gay man.”
Valor Christian issued a statement confirming school officials had spoken with Tonga following the discovery of a post to Facebook which led them to believe his views might not adhere to the culture and beliefs of the school.
“Valor’s campus pastor and athletic director initiated a conversation with Coach Inoke to explore this matter further,” the statement continued. “Following this discussion, Coach Inoke provided a statement to Valor in which he concluded that he does not support Valor’s beliefs and he requested a separation from Valor.”
The school denied some aspects of Tonga’s version of events, but did not specify which ones.
“Although Coach Inoke has misrepresented many aspects of this matter, Valor appreciates the contributions he has made to the student athletes in our volleyball program, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”
While the separation means Tonga is out of a job, he wrote with his integrity and identity intact.
“My identity will not be defined by a few men in a room full of self-righteous egos, who will never be worthy enough to tell me my worth,” Tonga wrote.