Texas T

Texas teacher claims he was fired after coming out as gay to his students

Josh Hamilton (left) with his attorney

Dr. Josh Hamilton, a three year veteran of Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District in Texas, claimed this week that he lost his job after mentioning to a group of students that he’s gay. School officials insist that Hamilton lost his job for sending a text message to a student.

Hamilton, who served as a coach for the school’s speech team, says he casually mentioned to a group of students that he was gay during a speech tournament. The next day, Hamilton says, human resources contacted him about his comments and asked to inspect his cell phone message history. Not long after, Hamilton was placed on administrative leave before the district announced it would fire him.

School officials insist firing Hamilton had nothing to do with his sexual orientation. Rather, the district says he sent inappropriate text messages to a student discussing his personal life. “To be clear, Mr. Hamilton’s sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with the reason Mr. Hamilton has been proposed for termination,” district spokeswoman Kristin Snively said in a statement. “Mr. Hamilton has been proposed for termination for good cause due to violations of the District’s electronic communications policy, violations of student privacy, failure to follow written directives, and violations of the Texas Educator’s Code of Ethics. In GCISD, we hold all employees to high standards for their interactions with our most important people, our students. His conduct is not acceptable for an educator in GCISD.”

Related: This bisexual teacher came out to help a suicidal student, then his school fired him

Hamilton claims he only texted a student about a babysitting arrangement, though he did mention that he would be on a date at one point when requesting childcare. “If we’re going to fire a teacher for texting a kid, we’re going to fire a lot of teachers in Texas,” Hamilton said.

The district’s Board of Trustees voted 7-0 Monday to allow Hamilton’s termination. Hamilton plans to appeal to the state education agency.

The case of Josh Hamilton comes at a sensitive time for LGBTQ rights in the workplace, as the Trump Administration has argued before the Supreme Court that queer Americans are not entitled to civil rights protections, and that businesses should have the right to fire employees for identifying as LGBTQ.