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Gay Iowa Teacher Forced to Resign From School After Blackmail Attempt

Lutheran School Forces Gay Teacher to Resign After Blackmail Attempt

The Iowa Lutheran school also appealed his unemployment benefits even though they knew he was gay when they hired him.

A gay music teacher was forced to resign from his job at a private Christian school in Cedar Valley, Iowa, after personal pictures hacked from his phone were posted to the school's social media.

Matthew Gerhold told the Iowa Capital Dispatch he went to administrators at Valley Lutheran High School in January to reveal he was being blackmailed over contents from a hacked phone. Not long after, pictures and other information stolen from the phone were posted to the school's Facebook page.

Gerhold said he told the school he was gay when he was hired last summer, but that their only concern at the time was he keep his sexual identity a "secret and not pursue a relationship" with anyone while employed.

Despite their prior knowledge of his sexual identity, school administrators immediately placed Gerhold on administrative leave following the posting of the photos over his sexual identity. Later the same day he was told by the school's pastor, who was also a school board member, that it would be in the best interest of all involved to resign because the school board would terminate him at its next meeting. He resigned his position that evening.

The school later unsuccessfully appealed the state's decision to grant unemployment benefits to Gerhold. Following a hearing held May 2, Administrative Law Judge Blair Bennett found the school's "argument breaks down to (Gerhold) being told he would no longer have a job because of the actions of a third party, not controlled by (Gerhold), completely outside of work," according to the paper. Bennett also noted the school had failed to show Gerhold committed any acts of misconduct that would justify the termination of his employment.

Following the decision, Gerhold had sobering words regarding his experience with Valley Lutheran School.

"They simply don't see sexual orientation as involuntary attraction to one sex or another, they see sexuality as choices, whether they admit that or not," Gerhold told the Dispatch. "I wasn't the first gay man the church has done this to, and I won't be the last because the church doesn't want to listen to understand my story or background. They are only listening and waiting to respond to it with pick-and-choose theology."

He also made clear he would not let this setback stop him from continuing with his career or his love of music.

"My sexual identity has absolutely nothing to do with my career in music and my love for music," Gerhold said. "If the church as a whole doesn't want to use me for whatever they are striving to achieve, then I shall go somewhere else that would love to have me to live out my vocation for others."

Gerhold told the paper he reported the attempted blackmail incident to police, but was told they had too few resources to investigate.

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