Gay teacher driven from job due to ‘pattern of harassment’ after he came out
A Kansas teacher has resigned and moved states after a series of threating letters that began after he came out last year.
Michael Hill, a high school visual arts teacher in Seneca Kansas came out as gay to his pupils and on social media during last year’s Coming Out Day.
Shortly after this, Hill began to receive a series of intimidating letters that referred to gay people as “perverts and predators.”
“Things got ugly and I started to fear for my own well-being,” Hill told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Hill shared some of the letters he had recieved on social media, saying: “people need to know this kind of ugly hatred still exists in the world, only by confronting it can we end it.”
It is unclear whether the letters came from a parent of one of Hill’s pupils or another member of the community.
“Homosexuals should not be teaching our kids,” one letter said.
“In fact, I don’t believe they should be teachers at all. They are perverts and predators. They are not acceptable role models for our kids.”
The first letter, sent to Hill at school, ends by calling for Hill to be terminated. It said: “You should not be allowed to push some gay agenda on our kids.
“You need to be fired and you can take your gay ideas with you. Fags are not welcome in our schools.”
This letter was followed up with two others that Hill has made public, which became increasingly threatening in nature.
“You need to watch your back cause I aint alone,” another letter says. “Queers will burn and so will you. Don’t think my friends and I still ain’t after you.”
There were also incidents of vandalism against Hill’s property, including an incident where his car tyres were punctured with a screwdriver and homophobic slurs written on the car itself.
The teacher reported the incidents to the police, who are stull currently investigating.
Hill said that he felt that moving away from Seneca was the only solution. “It was very frustrating that my option was to pack up and move,” he said.
District Superintendent Darrel Kohlman said that he was saddened by Hill’s departure, and stated that tolerance and acceptance was a key part of education in the area.
Kohlman said: “We feel like we’re trying to do our part. It’s unfortunate that society has not followed suit.
“[Hill] was the director of our plays, and he did a very good job as a classroom teacher. We’re sorry not to have him anymore.”
Kohlman also responded to the accusations that the letters had been faked. He said: “I have no doubt that he received all three letters. He came to me after each one.”
Executive director of Equality Kansas Tom Witt called the harassment ‘horrifying.’
“It is absolutely horrifying that professionals in Kansas are still being harassed and threatened, and run out of their jobs and run out of town, because of their sexual orientation,” Witt said.
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Since publishing the letters, Hill’s post has received thousands of shares and support from people around the world.
“I want to say I’m astounded with the outpouring of support. Please know there are many people out there who need to know how much support we have,” the teacher said.
“There are outstanding people there and the students were terrific! I enjoyed the time I taught there and I’m saddened that someone in the community thought so much less of me simply because I’m gay.”
As well as announcing his resignation, Hill announced his plan to move to the city of Palm Springs in California, which made headlines last year after every person elected to its city council was LGBT.
PinkNews has contacted Michael Hill for comment.