A couple of coaches at a Christian high school in Denver, Colorado have said they have been forced to resign for being LGBTQ+.
Earlier this week, Inoke Tonga told local media outlets that he was pushed out of his job coaching volleyball after Valor Christian High School officials found out he was gay.
A former lacrosse coach, Lauren Benner, has now come forward as well on Instagram saying she was also allegedly forced out due to her sexuality.
“I feel it is important for me to no longer stay silent and to share my similar experience of being mistreated by Valor,” Benner wrote.
“As I write this I am anxious and am in tears, but it is clear that so many other LGBTQ+ Valor staff and students need to know they are not alone,” she wrote.
Benner wrote that she began working at Valor in 2017. She said that she “established a home” a Valor over her time there. In 2019, Benner said she was called to a meeting with the athletic director and an HR representative. They said that the school received a tip that Benner was in a relationship with another woman.
“My stomach dropped,” Benner wrote. “I was still on a journey of self-discovery and so for someone, an employer nonetheless, to spontaneously ask me about my sexuality and dating life felt beyond violating.”
Benner said she denied “the accusation.” She added that she felt betrayed by the school. Benner asked what would have happened if she had said that she was dating a woman. School officials said the employee would have been asked to leave the school if they “chose to continue leading that life.” Benner decided to stay at the school because of her students, although she said the school became “a place of fear and distrust.”
In 2020, she requested to meet with school officials to discuss the school's stance on LGBTQ+ issues. Benner wrote, “I was overwhelmed with the lack of sensitivity to the topic and alarming dialogue that they disguised as a Biblical approach to same-sex attraction.”
“It was right then and there that I made the formal decision to end my employment at Valor,” she wrote.
Benner wrote that a year later she was still working through what happened. “My hope in sharing my story now is that we can begin to enact change in how these conversations are approached,” Benner wrote.
Benner’s post comes a few days after Inoke Tonga said he left his coaching job Valor because school officials told him he couldn’t teach children and be gay. Tonga had written a Facebook post about his disagreements with Valor on sexual orientation. The school contacted Tonga when it found out about the post.
The school gave Tonga a choice: “Be gay or admit that I wasn't gay and that I was just having what they call a spiritual battle,” Tonga told TV station KUSA. He said that Valor offered to let him stay if he denounced his sexual orientation and deleted the Facebook post.
Since his story has come out, Tonga told KUSA that he had seen a wave of support from both parents and strangers.
“It is humbling, very humbling for me,” he said.