Religious Homophobia in 2021?

Cammy Robertson and Lauren Berroa, Social Media Editors

On Aug. 27, 2021 students protest at Valor Christian’s doorstep in hopes that change will soon come. “[Forcing Inoke Tonga to quit] matters because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Valor Christian sophomore Lucy Sarkissian said. Sarkissian runs the Valor Students for Change instagram and posted many photos of the event.
Photo courtesy of: Lucy Sarkissian
Protesters stand in front of Valor Christan High School showing support for the LGBTQ+ community on Aug. 27.. “Love is love” is a statement that means falling in love. Sharing that with the world should be allowed even if it’s not heterosexual. This saying has gotten very popular through social media in the last few years and has made many appearances on protest signs and shirts. Photo courtesy of: Lucy Sarkissian

Inoke Tonga hugs a student who attended the Valor protest on Aug. 27. “Something that should be highlighted is the love and support from you [students],” Tonga said. “Protesting against adults and authority is so inspiring to me.” Tonga says this experience has been very emotional and that the community support has meant so much to him and the LGBTQ+ community. Photo courtesy of: Lucy Sarkissian
On Aug. 24, volleyball coach Inoke Tonga was forced to resign from Valor Christan High School following the schools discovery of his sexuality, which went against the schools beliefs. This brings up the question: can you be religious if you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community? Tonga has battled with this question for many years now.

“When I felt comfortable enough to just be honest with myself and vocally say it out loud that I am gay, I felt such a relief, and felt how wrong society is and was, telling me that they [sexuality and religion] cannot coexist,” Tonga said, “Thats what they teach us, you can’t be Christian and you cant be part of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Valor Christan sets an example that it is ok to not support people who are in the LGBTQ+ community because it’s not a part of their belief system but does this fall under homophobic discrimination?

“[This was] absolutely homopbobic. They asked him to quit because of his sexuality and they didn’t want him working for them since he’s gay. They made him quit because they didn’t want for it to come off as though they fired him but we all know he was forced to leave,” junior Jacquie Walsh said.

Valor’s actions sent a message to students across the world and the students are starting to fight for what they believe in.

To call him a danger for being gay sends the message to all queer students within the school that they don’t belong and Valor doesn’t want them there,” sophomore Lucy Sarkissian, a student who attends Valor and runs the Valor Students for Change Instagram, said. “Homophobia is unacceptable and we won’t stop fighting.”

Tonga understands that this problem affects not just him, but every student who goes to Valor and is in the LGBTQ+ community. 

“In my mind, I kept hearing myself tell my kids to advocate for yourself, and more importantly advocate for other people as well, so I spoke up,” Tonga said. “The support and love from all of you guys, and wanting to have this story continue to spread so other people have a voice is beautiful. I don’t think there has been one day since two weeks ago [from his initial statement] that I have not cried. Thursday and Friday maybe I cried because I was sad and angry, but since Saturday it’s just crying from feeling overwhelmed with love and support.”

The message of this fight isn’t to bash Valor, but to call out Valor’s behavior and start a change.

This isn’t about hating Valor as a school, we hate Valor’s actions but still see many positive aspects to the school,” Sarkissian said. “But as long as we sweep Valors discrimination under the rug it sends a message that bigotry and homophobia are acceptable in 2021 which is simply not true.”