Tom Klansnic
WATCH: Fired Ore. Principal Says Atmosphere Changed After He Came Out

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com June 13 2013 5:18 PM ET

Tom Klansnic, an Oregon high school principal who was let go from his job this year and says it’s because he is gay, has opened up about the matter in an interview with a Portland TV station.

Klansnic, who for 10 years was principal at North Gresham Elementary School in the town of Gresham, says attitudes toward him changed when he came out after his divorce a few years ago.

“It was very interesting to me that it happened exactly when I got divorced and exactly when I came out and told my friends and began to tell my family that I was gay,” he told TV station KATU in an interview yesterday. “And told my wife and my son. The way I was treated in the school district changed drastically.”

The turning point was a private conversation with a supervisor, he said: “And after that happened is when things started to change with the way that I was being treated. So I connected the two that it must be because I’m gay — because I’ve gotten awards for my work working in this school district — an exceptional report card from the state of Oregon for a poor school — that just doesn't happen very often.” The supervisor’s words in the conversation were “bullying words,” Klansnic said.

The Gresham-Barlow school board voted not to renew Klansnic’s contract when it expired this year. School officials have declined comment on the matter, citing confidentiality of personnel records, except to say the district has a nondiscrimination policy and did not discriminate against Klansnic. The state of Oregon also has a law against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The district recently reached a settlement in a dispute with him, without admitting liability or wrongdoing.

Klansnic has moved to another state, where he plans to continue his career in education, after having been a teacher and administrator in Oregon for 25 years. “The kids in the state where I’m moving — they have to know who Mr. K is,” he told KATU. “So I’m not done with my work.”

Watch the interview below.