The Day The Music Died

WATCH: Music Teacher Asked If He’s Homosexual, Then Fired

Looks like it’s a trending topic this morning.

Fresh off the heels of the fired gay water polo coach comes this shocking story of Jonathan Zeng, a music teacher and gay christian hired by Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, blatantly asked if he were a homosexual, then promptly shown the door.

In a wonderfully written letter provided to Towleroad, Zeng describes what happened directly after he received the happy phone call that he had been hired as a music teacher:

Mr. Thompson called and asked me to return to complete some necessary business they had forgotten. He explained that there was an issue weighing on his mind because of my application answers regarding my belief in Christ’s unconditional love and that we as Christ’s followers are to show that love to all without judgment. These responses prompted him to ask if I was a homosexual. I was completely taken aback by this and asked why that was important. He explained that it was school policy not to employ teachers who are homosexual. When I asked why, he said that it was because I would work with children and because of the sanctity of marriage. I can’t begin to say how offensive and painful his comments were. I had no idea the school held such a viewpoint. Mr. Thompson was kind enough to offer me a ride, which I refused.

That’s so very sweet of Mr. Thompson, that homophobic bigot.

Current Ohio state and federal laws forbid discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin, but not sexual orientation. According to Scott E. Knox, a Cincinnati lawyer who spoke with, no federal law protects Zeng from job discrimination on the basis of homosexuality. But, Cincinnati’s 2006 Human Rights ordinance does make it a violation to discriminate for employment based on sexual orientation. But, the ordinance does not apply to religious institutions. But, if the school gets its tax-exempt status as a school, not a place of worship, then the ordinance would apply. Which is it?!

According to WCPO, HRC and Equality Cincinnati subsequently released this:

Cincinnati includes sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination protections. However, HRC respects that Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, as a religious school, is exempt under the law. But that doesn’t make their action morally right.

Can some lawyer please step up to represent Zeng and sort through all this?

Zeng, a Christian who firmly believes in the compassion of Christ, ends his letter with this verse from James 4:12: “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”

On a completely personal, non-story-related note: Is Jonathan single? We would also like to fight for Marriage Equality with him.

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  • Thomathy

    Sad as discrimination is, it’s probably even more sad to see gays deluded into sincere belief in a truly horrible religion.

  • Brandon

    This is why ENDA is needed and far more important than same gender marriage. Who decided that same gender marriage is the #1 priority for LGBT people?

    This being said this guy teaches at a private school. If I were him I would not have answered the question or lied just to keep my job.

  • Delius

    It’s a Christian academy let them choose who they want to teach.
    Should they be forced to hire a Muslim cleric?

    Good grief.

    They should be free to choose or to do what they please.

  • Bob

    Gay business owners should then have the right to ask if a person is straight and if so, deny them the job. Let’s see how long that boat would float!

  • LaTeesha

    I wouldn’t want this guy working with my kids. I don’t let crazy people – and face it that’s what you are if you want to teach at some nutwing place – around my children.

  • reality

    1. If discrimination based on sexual orientation is allowed in this state, this is legal.
    2. Christian organizations are not obligated to employ us.

    That’s the reality. Is it right? Hell no. But it’s legal.

  • Belize

    @Delius: “They should be free to choose or to do what they please.”

    Just in case you haven’t heard though, a lot of them want to kill us. :)

  • CHIP1218

    I actually do not feel so sorry for this teacher, because he applied for the position at a Christian school, knowing that this could be an issue, and he should know that his state does not give protections to gay and lesbians with regards to employment decisions.

    When I was planning my move from NYC to South Carolina, I was contacted by two private universities near where I was going to move, that saw my resume on a professional networking site. I submitted my application to the first one that contacted me, and was emailed by their HR department the same day, asking for 3 Christian references. Ends up, this private university was affiliated with the Southern Baptist church and needed me to provide proof and sign an affidavit that Jesus Christ is my personal lord and savior. When I asked what would happen if I was not Christian, they told me they could not hire me without signing that affidavit. When the second local private university called me about my resume, I cut straight to the chase and asked them if my not being Christian would be a roadblock to being hired. They said yes, and I thanked them for their interest and told them to look at other candidates. This is perfectly legal in the state of South Carolina, I was in a labor law program for my undergraduate studies and multiple classmates confirmed that this employment practice is legal in the State of South Carolina for religiously affiliated non-profits.

    In other words, you should know the company you are interviewing with before the job interview. You should know your rights within the state or local jurisdiction you are applying to for the job opening. If there are no protections for employment law with regards to sexual orientation, you do not disclose your orientation without risk of not being considered or fired.

  • randalaw

    @Delius: I agree with you as long as the school accepts no funds from federal, state, or local governments.

  • NateOcean

    Jesus never married, and mostly hung around with other young men.
    I’m just sayin’

    Jesus also has great abs!

  • Carlos

    I also don’t feel bad for this guy. He knew that this school or his employers are probably not OK with LGBT people so why admit that he’s gay to them? He must not have liked his job and wanted to get fired.

  • MarieDelta

    LaTeesha-Quit trolling.

  • Chad

    I don’t feel sorry for anyone who claims to be gay and christian. Furthermore someone who is gay taking a job at a christian facility and he is offended these delusional whackjobs asked about his orientation.

  • Gay Bacon

    Wait…so I can fire a homophobe and use the excuse he’s straight? I’m sure they would sue but for what? The right to include sexual orientation under a discriminatory clause? Lol hmmm I wonder…

  • Jerome Williams

    Chad you can be LGBT and Christian, however most LGBT people would probably rather avoid working in a Fundamentalist Christian school but this guy did not. Then again it is odd that he actually told them the truth when they asked. In this case it’s better to have not said anything if he wanted to keep his job as a teacher.

  • Delius

    If they are forced to accept him, then a gay group should be forced to take michelle bachmann if she applied.

    come on guys….private companies/groups are allowed to do as they please.

    tarts the beauty of this country.

  • Chuck

    Cincinnati is the home of John Boehner and Rob Portman, AKA the epicenter of anti-LGBT bigotry. Cincinnati is essentially a small southern town masquerading as a modern American city.

  • Chuck

    PS,to demonstrate your dislike of everything Cincinnati, which also prosecuted Robert Mapelthorp exhibit and in addition to Boehner and Portman, further supports uber haters Mike Pence, Jean Schmidt, and Mitch McConnell, boycott their primary industry, P&G and buy all things Unilever. Everything P&G makes is also made by Unilever sans hate for LGBTs.

  • Steve

    These things are usually easy to google.

    There is no Federal protection. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has been introduced several times, but not passed.

    There is no protection in state law. The Ohio House of Representatives has passed a bill to prohibit such discrimination, but it died in the Senate, each of the last several yars. (google “Ohio Equal Housing and Employment Act”)

    Cincinnati, OH, does not appear to have any local ordinance prohibiting discrimination against gays.

    So, it appears that an employer in Cincinnati _may_ fire an employee “for being gay”.

    (I am not a lawyer.)

  • John Pate

    Cincinnati does have an anti-discrimination law that forbids discrimination on sexual orientation, although I don’t think it would apply if Armleder was given non-profit status as a religious institution rather than a school (I am not a lawyer). Anyway, according to, the maximum penalty is a $1000 fine.

    I went to CHCA for middle school and high school (although I never attended the Armleder campus). I am now (and have been for some time) an atheist, and think this behavior by CHCA is completely indefensible. Some commenters have suggested that this individual should have just stayed away from the school, as if the world will be fine if we just let the bigots isolate themselves from the rest of us. It’s not so simple. Closeted students who have little choice about where they go to school are harmed by the anti-gay sentiment, for example. A more diverse faculty would go miles to improve life for these students.

    Moreover, it’s not as though the school is of one mind on this issue. Other commenters have derided the school as “fundamentalist” and full of “religious wingnuts,” but this is inaccurate. The school is much more even-handed; there is nary a mention of intelligent design or creationism in biology class, for example, with evolution by natural selection receiving its due emphasis. There is one optional, senior-level class devoted to “origins” topics, and it discusses not just intelligent design but also evolution and a variety of Ancient Near Eastern creation myths. Probably the most politically and theologically liberal segment of the faculty, at least when I was there, are in the Bible department.

    My point is that there is room for dissent and diversity among the faculty at CHCA, and we should not surrender it bigotry. Mr Zeng had every right to take the job, and, based on his towleroad letter, was prepared to defend his views constructively and in a way that made the school more welcoming.

    John Kenton Pate

    CHCA class of 2005

  • Karen

    @Thomathy: Christianity is not a horrible religion, It’s simply that conservative Christians (especially the Catholics and Mormons) pretty much ignored everything Jesus said about not judging others. I’m a Christian, but I’m also Bisexual and do not agree that homosexuality is a sin. (Also, it’s not in EVERY translation of the Bible, either!)

  • dan

    A correction- I’d rather not claim him but Mitch McConnell (or McConn Job as we call him) is from Louisville, Kentucky not Cinti. He is the senior senator from Kentucky (I never voted for him!)

  • Andy

    @John Pate:

    Why is everyone being so unsupportive of this guy? He seems like a decent human being who is looking to do something he is passionate about – educate students about music.

    Everyone always slams Christianity so terribly in the comments on this website. That does a disservice to all of us; it makes us no openminded than the worst Christians. Quite a few Christian denominations openly support and accept LGBT folks, so it’s completely unfair to paint all of them with the same brush. In addition, the school’s website claims that it is a “nondenominational” Christian school, which should imply that it is open to having people from diverse Christian backgrounds – including those from groups that are accepting of us.

    John, you make a good point. We can’t segregate ourselves into places that make us feel safe all the time…there are plenty of children who would benefit from having an LGBT-affirming staff member available to them. I know I would have.

  • B

    No. 17 · Delius wrote, “If they are forced to accept him, then a gay group should be forced to take michelle bachmann if she applied.” Not true – he’s apparently competent. Some of us have real doubts about Michelle Bachmann in that regard.

  • Derek

    It is a Christian school suck it up.

  • Bill Alpert

    It seems ironic that some of the worst sex offenders that have come to light recently in public or private schools are straight. And school officials have done little or nothing to prevent such activities, even when warning signs and prior reports of offenses are present.

Comments are closed.