Volleyball coach says he was pressured to resign from Denver's Valor Christian High School because he's gay

·3 min read

A volleyball coach at Denver's Valor Christian High School says he was pressured to resign from his job after school administrators learned that he is gay.

Inoke Tonga wrote in a detailed Instagram post on Sunday that he met with the school's pastor and athletic director who gave him a choice to "denounce being gay" or lose his job.

"I sat in the room being grilled about how being gay is a ‘danger’ to the school and to the kids," Tonga wrote. "That with me ‘identifying as a gay man, they can’t put the kids at risk by having me in front of them.' ...

"They even went as far as telling me ‘parents pay too much money to have their kids be coached and taught by someone like you who identifies as a gay man.’”

Tonga, who is Christian, accused the administrators of offering to write an email for him stating that he was "away for personal matters, so that when you make your decision to accept God and our help, you can come back and they don’t have to know of your spiritual battle." He wrote that they framed this offer as a way "to ultimately protect you and our kids."

'You need to become a child of God'

He wrote that they said they "weren't trying to convert me into being a straight man," then pressured him to convert.

"I want you to cut off that part of who you think you are," he wrote that they told him. "Go home and delete any posts on social media that speak about being gay. We want you to realize that you aren’t gay. You need to become a child of God.

"No more goals of getting married to the love of my life who is a man."

The school confirmed to Denver 7 through a statement that it became aware that Tonga is gay through a Facebook post that didn't align with the school's values. Employees are required to live in accordance with those values, per the statement.

Valor Christian confirms meeting took place

The statement confirmed that the school's pastor and athletic director had a meeting with Tonga that prompted him to submit his resignation. It also claimed that "Coach Inoke has misrepresented many aspects of this matter."

"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," the statement read. "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 wrote about his experience as a gay man in a Christian environment on Facebook on June 15.

Tonga was the head coach of the boys junior varsity volleyball team and an assistant for the varsity team. He wrote that he was offered a position as an assistant on the school's girls volleyball team next season prior to the meeting that prompted his resignation.

(Kirby Lee/Reuters)

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