Colorado HS Volleyball Coach Inoke Tonga Says He Was Forced to Resign for Being Gay

Adam WellsAugust 23, 2021

DUESSELDORF, GERMANY - JULY 26: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT)  Three volleyballs on an advertising band during the semi-final of qualification for the German Championships 2020 on July 26, 2020 in Duesseldorf, Germany. (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

A high school volleyball coach in Colorado said he was forced to resign from the position because of his sexual orientation. 

Inoke Tonga, who is gay, wrote in a post on Instagram that Valor Christian High School administrators, including the campus pastor and athletic director, to ask him "if I had any changes in my lifestyle that were life changing."

"As I was asked repeatedly that question, they finally asked if I had posted something inappropriate on my social media that would go against Valor's culture and beliefs. And of course, I said no—I am not one to post anything on my social media that would be inappropriate. Eventually they asked if I did an interview, or posted anything about being gay. My answer was yes. Of course I advocate for LGBTO+ brothers and sisters, especially those struggling with finding a relationship with God."

Tonga added that he sat in the room "being grilled about how being gay is a 'danger' to the school and to the kids."

He noted the pastor and athletic director told him he would be released from his job if he didn't denounce identifying as a gay man, and they told the volleyball team and community it was his choice to leave. 

"But they left out the part where they pushed me out," Tonga wrote. 

A spokesperson for the school issued a statement to Sloan Dickey of ABC 7 in Denver about Tonga's comments:

"Last week Valor became aware of a Facebook posting by Coach Inoke that suggested he may not support Valor’s beliefs pertaining to sexuality and marriage. Valor’s campus pastor and athletic director initiated a conversation with Coach Inoke to explore this matter further. Following this discussion, Coach Inoke provided a statement to Valor in which he concluded that he does not support Valor’s beliefs and he requested a separation from Valor."

Tonga was named head coach of the Valor Christian High School boys volleyball team for the 2020-21 school year. He was named an assistant for the girls team this year prior to his departure from the school on Aug. 19.