Inoke Tonga, until recently the volleyball coach at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, claimed through social media that he was forced to leave his job because he is gay.
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In an Aug. 21 post seen on his Facebook and Instragram accounts, Tonga said that after coaching the private school's girls volleyball team last year and the start of this year, his tenure ended on Aug. 19 after a meeting with the school’s campus pastor and athletic director regarding a social media post that had been brought to their attention.
“I sat in the room being grilled about how being gay is a danger to the school and to the kids,” Tonga said. “That with me identifying as a gay man, they can’t put the kids at risk by having me in front of them.”
Columbia said that in connection with Tonga's employment, he signed a statement affirming his alignment with Valor’s beliefs and community standards. Last week, Columbia said, Valor became aware of a Facebook post by Tonga that suggested he might not support Valor’s beliefs pertaining to sexuality and marriage.
Columbia said this led to Valor’s campus pastor and athletic director initiating a conversation with Tonga to explore the matter further on Aug. 19. Following this discussion, Tonga provided statements that showed his beliefs did not align with Valor's, which led to the separation that Valor and Tonga agreed was appropriate, according to the school.
While the Christian school did not say which post led them to question Tonga, the coach posted the following statement on Facebook on June 15: “If you really want to see the lack of charity, love, and compassion (or any ‘Christ Like’ attributes) in any Christian individual, from any Christian religion, tell them you’re gay. Fair warning though, if you don’t like passive aggressive comments, do not do it. For whatever reason, talking about racism, and homosexuality will bring out the best, but also the worst in people.”
According to the statement provided by Columbia, “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.”
Tonga said in his Aug. 21 social-media statement that making the situation public is not about garnering sympathy or attention, but instead, to set an example and teach his children to embrace who they are and learn to love themselves.
“To Valor Christian, I pray that the students and faculty who are silently battling accepting who they are, realize that the morals of the school and the beliefs of certain individuals do not get to decide if they are worthy of God's love,” he said. “I pray that I can be a beacon of light for those who you so openly shun. I also thank you for allowing me the opportunity to take your students under my wings and provide them with a safe haven on and off the court.”
Tonga also expressed gratitude to students and parents who have spoke out on his behalf against a school that, “hides behind hate, fear, and fake, ungodly love.”
Attempts to reach Tonga through an email address and social media were not immediately successful.
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