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Christian School Allegedly Denies Teacher Job Because He’s Gay

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Jun 8, 2012

A music teacher from Cincinnati, Ohio, says he was not offered a job at a Christian school because he is gay, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Jonathan Zeng, a music teacher and singer, claims that Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, a nondenominational Christian school, offered him a third grade teaching position after Zeng went through a series of interviews.

The teacher says that after he accepted the job the school suddenly retracted his offer.

Zeng claims he received a phone call a few hours later from the school's officials, who allegedly asked him if he is gay. Zeng, 30, asked why his sexual orientation mattered and the officials said that the school has a policy of not hiring gay teachers because they will be around children and that the school believes in traditional marriage.

"What they did was very painful," Zeng said. "I hope that many of their school families and supporters don't feel that way."

The newspaper said that Cincinnati Hill officials would not comment on the situation and would not confirm that Zeng wasn't hired because of his sexual orientation.

The school's spokeswoman, Liz Bronson, also would not confirm if the school has a policy of not hiring gays.

"CHCA keeps confidential all matters discussed within a candidate's interview," she said in a statement. "We're looking into this matter, although the initial information we have seen contains inaccuracies. We will not be discussing individual hiring decisions or interviews. "

The school, which has about 1,500 students, has three schools in the Cincinnati area, one of them called Armleder - a campus located in downtown Cincinnati and the school Zeng lives near and where he interviewed. About 170 mostly minority students attend the school and most come from low-income families.

Zeng currently teaches at a Catholic school and has taught for about five years, he says. He also told the newspaper he doesn't know what his next step will be but is still looking for full-time work and performance opportunities.

Ohio does not recognize marriage equality but the state has anti-discrimination laws that protect gays within state employment. There are no laws protecting sexual orientation or gender identity outside of state employment, however.

Scott E. Knox, a Cincinnati lawyer who specializes in employment and discrimination law, told the publication that federal laws probably won't protect the young teacher from discrimination. There is a local ordinance that may protect Zeng, however.

Knox claims the city's Human Rights ordinance makes it a criminal violation for Cincinnati employers to discriminate against LGBT people. They can be hit with a $1,000 fine, he said but the legislation has yet been used in court since it was first implemented in 2006.

The lawyer added that the ordinance exempts religious institutions but it may apply to a private school.

Several gay men and woman across the country have been fired from their jobs after employers found out they're gay.

Steav Bates-Congdon worked at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Charlotte, N.C., since 2004 and was openly gay. After he married his partner in February in January, church officials let him go. The spokesman for the Dioceses of Charlotte, David Hains, said that Bates-Congdon's marriage to his husband, Bill Bates-Congdon, "is a public statement in direct opposition to the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage as a lifelong, exclusive covenant between one man and one woman."

In April Peter TerVeer said he was let go from his management analysis position at the Library of Congress when his boss got wind that he "liked" a Facebook page for same-sex parents. A musical director for a Catholic church in North Carolina says he was fired after he married his partner.

TerVeer said he received "religiously motivated harassment and decimation" emails from his manager John Mech. He also asked TerVeer to join in a meeting so he could educate "him on Hell and that it awaited him for being a homosexual."


  • Wayne M., 2012-06-11 21:11:51

    Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy is a religious school and Christian only in name. I suspect that Mr. Zeng will be able to find a school that actually practices true Christian values by respecting him for his talents and gifts for teaching.

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