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Students Protest Christian High School in CO for Allegedly Forcing Out Two Coaches for Being Gay

Valor Christian High School: ‘We Take Our Faith Very Seriously’

In a statement, Valor Christian High School says it “embraces, loves, and respects all students, families, and other participants in our community, regardless of whether or not they agree with Valor’s beliefs. 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.”

On its website, Valor says it has a “pretty thorough and detailed hiring process” and carefully reviews applicants’ responses “to confirm you are well-aligned with our Christian community.” The school adds, “We take our faith very seriously and seek to honor Jesus in everything we do. That includes our decisions to hire people to join our community.”

Part of the Annual Statement of Commitment that Valor employees must sign states: “I affirm that I have no reason to believe that my character, my beliefs, my lifestyle, my conduct, or my reputation as a Christian leader will bring harm, damage, or insult to the mission of the school.”

On social media, Tonga pushes back, saying, “The culture document of Valor Christian that was given to me during the interview process didn’t mention anything about their stance on LGBTQ+.”

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Students, Parents Demand ‘Concrete Changes’

At Tuesday’s protest, about 30 students carried signs with messages such as “Love Thy Neighbor.” Lucy Sarkissian, a 16-year-old Valor student who organized the walkout, says, “I’ve seen students who have been threatened to be suspended for talking about being in gay relationships. I’ve seen transgender students who aren’t allowed to use their correct name or their correct pronouns.” She adds, “If we’re truly called to love thy neighbor, that means love your gay neighbor, love your trans neighbor, love your queer neighbor, and this is not loving thy neighbor.”

Hearing that Coach Inoke was allegedly called a danger is heartbreaking, especially for queer students, says Sarkissian. She’s urging the school to adopt more accepting policies. “There’s some concrete changes we would like to see made, and number one is going to be not firing teachers based off of their sexuality,” she says. “Additionally, we would like to see that students are able to be more open about their sexuality without fear of being reprimanded by the deans.”

Several parents—some wishing to remain anonymous, fearing retribution against their students—also are expressing disagreement with the school’s stance. “That worldview is just not consistent with where we are at today,” says Robert Galop, the father of two Valor students. “I would appreciate having [Coach Tonga] in front of my kids as a coach there, and as an advocate and a mentor.”

On Instagram, one “Valor mom” of student-athletes writes, “I want men & women of character to lead them in the classroom and on the field. Sexual orientation is not a factor in character. I am ashamed that this school that is so amazing in so many ways employs people who are discriminatory and judging of ANYONE.”

Valor alum Cole Watson, who was openly gay at high school, says a teacher there once “led a discussion about what part of hell I would end up in because of my choices.” Watson created a Google document so gay Valor alumni and current students can share their experiences and support one another.

Legal Experts: “This Is Such an Evolving Area”

When asked about the situation, officials at the Colorado High School Activities Association said it’s a personnel matter and the association doesn’t condone any type of discrimination.