A volleyball coach said he was forced to quit his job at Valor Christian High School after staff told him he couldn’t identify as a gay man.
Inoke Tonga shared the details on Sunday of a meeting he had with the campus pastor and athletic director last week about a Facebook post he made suggesting he’s gay.
“I was asked if I had any changes in lifestyle that were life changing,” Tonga said on Instagram.
“As I was asked repeatedly that question, they finally asked if I had posted something inappropriate on my social media that would go against Valor’s culture and beliefs.”
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“They said I had two options,” Tonga explained. “The first option was to denounce that I was gay.”
The second option, he said, was to resign.
“They told me, ‘We’ll give you a day, we’ll give you a week, however long it takes for you to accept our help to be healed and come to become a child of God and denounce being gay,'” he explained. “If not, I would have to be released as a coach.”
School officials confirm that the athletic directors were made aware of a Facebook post made by Tonga.
“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,” a spokesperson for the school said in a statement. “Valor’s campus pastor and athletic director initiated a conversation with Coach Inoke to explore this matter further. 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.”
Tonga went on to add that the conversation was one of the most invasive of his life.
“What (school officials) said was, ‘We don’t want to make it seem like we’re trying to convert you into being a straight man, but we just want you to be a child of God,'” he said. “I was scared after that, because I felt that I would be released for identifying as a gay man.”
“They did say it was a danger to be in front of the kids,” he said. “And that to protect the kids I couldn’t be in front of them.”
Tonga said denouncing his sexuality wasn’t going to be an option.
The school said Tonga has misrepresented many aspects of this matter but it appreciates the contributions he has made to student-athletes.
“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.”