A teacher in Kentucky claims he was fired after coming out as bisexual to stop one of his students from killing herself.
Nicholas Breiner believes he was let go as a choral teacher at J.B. McNabb Middle School, in the town of Mount Sterling, because he opened up about his sexuality, according to USA Today.
This, Breiner said, prompted him to publicly come out in an emotional Instagram post—before he had even told his family—because he was so concerned for the wellbeing of other students who might be struggling with their sexuality.
Three days after the Instagram post, Breiner claims he was ordered to the principal’s office, asked about his sexuality by a deputy school superintendent and warned to keep the fact that he was bisexual to himself.
A few weeks later, he was reportedly told his contract with Montgomery County Public Schools would not be renewed.
Breiner has filed a federal lawsuit against Montgomery County schools, but the suit was dismissed last month on the grounds that the US doesn’t have a federal law banning anti-LGBT discrimination. He is appealing the ruling.
Nicholas Breiner says suicide note prompted coming out
Breiner claimed that shortly after the lesbian student came out to him, “I received a frantic text from another student who had just received this young lady’s suicide note.
“I rushed out to her house with police and, thankfully, we got to her in time.”
The experience reportedly pushed Breiner to reveal his own sexuality on Instagram, to help other students who might be struggling with their sexuality.
On April 7, 2017, the teacher wrote on his Instagram account: “I honestly never intended to come out. I’ve known I was bi for years but, as far as I was concerned, that was nobody’s business but my own.
“With the possibility that I could save even a single life, I could no longer ethically stay in the closet.”
— Nicholas Breiner on why he came out as bisexual
“It’s something I have never pursued and, honestly, likely never will. A couple of weeks ago, however, I was working with a person who was struggling. This was partially due to their orientation.”
“I felt that they needed to know there was someone in the room that understood and supported them, regardless of who they were,” he continued in the since-deleted post.
“As terrifying as it was to admit, I had to value someone else’s well-being over my own privacy. After a lot of support from people I decided that 30 years was long enough to wait.
“Hey world, I am what I am.”
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Breiner explained his decision to reveal he was bisexual, saying: “I couldn’t help but wonder how many students I had that were in a similar situation to that student; feeling completely alone and nearing that irreversible decision.”
He continued: “If she knew long before that I, a teacher she liked and had a good relationship with, knew exactly what she was feeling, would she have gotten to that point?
“I was cautioned about being open with my sexuality in a small eastern Kentucky town.”
— Nicholas Breiner after coming out as bisexual
“It’s impossible to know but, with the possibility that I could save even a single life, I could no longer ethically stay in the closet. I needed to value my students’ safety and well-being over my own privacy.”
The Instagram post led to his talk in the principal’s office, Breiner said.
“I was cautioned about being open with my sexuality in a small eastern Kentucky town. That a number of parents were concerned that I would be actively trying to change their children’s religious beliefs.”
A month and a half after he was let go, the county’s Superintendent Matthew Thompson allegedly told Breiner in a letter that he was let go because of his teaching technique and poor classroom and time management.
Since coming out as bisexual, Breiner said he has intervened to help 17 young people considering suicide—many of whom were struggling with their sexuality.
If you are in the US and are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression, or just want to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255. If you are in the UK, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.