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Students have been coming out in solidarity after Christian teacher was sacked for being gay

Lily Wakefield October 29, 2019
Monica Toro Lisciandro was dismissed from Covenant Christian School in Palm Bay

Monica Toro Lisciandro was dismissed from Covenant Christian School in Palm Bay (Florida Today)

A teacher at Florida Christian high school has been fired for being a lesbian, but the “traumatic” experience has helped some students come out as LGBT+ in solidarity.

Monica Toro Lisciandro had been a theatre teacher at Covenant Christian School in Palm Bay, Florida, for around three years when she was unexpectedly call to a meeting with school administrators.

She told NBC that the meeting was called when she was preparing for rehearsals for a school production she was directing of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. 

Administrators told her they had received a call informing them that Toro Lisciandro was gay, had attended Pride and ran a studio which hosted “homosexual activities”.

Outside of school, the teacher owns a performing arts studio which runs a youth program called the Rainbow Project, an “LGBTQ safe haven”, among its many other dance and drama classes.

Toro Lisciandro told NBC: “I spent 35 years of my life in the closet, and I’m not going back. What was I going to say? I told them: ‘Yes, it’s true.'”

She said the meeting continued as a lecture on sin, and she was told that she could no longer work at the school. She then had to return to rehearsals as if nothing had happened.

She said: “I taught that day and acted like I was coming back to the kids. It was traumatic.

“It’s hard to stomach that the message they’re sending is you can’t be gay and be a teacher.”

While students and parents were originally told that Toro Lisciandro could no longer teach because of “personal reasons”, the truth soon came out. In response, she said, some students chose to come out in solidarity.

She continued: “For me, the biggest thing is the kids. I want them to know it’s OK to be gay and that God loves you.

“Some students have come out since the real reason behind why I am no longer teaching there has gotten out, which makes me so happy… and I really want change to happen so no student has to face what I face.”

There is currently no law in Florida which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

On its website, Covenant Christian School states: “Employment at Covenant Christian School is open to qualified individuals who are “born-again” Christians of good character, without regard or reference to race, gender, national or ethnic origin, color, age, or disability.

“Covenant Christian School is a religious educational ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, permitted to discriminate on the basis of religion.

“All prospective and current employees must conduct their lives in conformity with both the church’s and school’s Statements of Faith and with all standards of ethical and moral integrity.”

In a statement to NBC, the school added: “All employees must agree to and model our position on human sexuality, which is based on the biblical teaching that asks all Christ followers to abstain from any sexual activities outside of a one-man, one-woman marriage.”

More: Christianity, coming out, discrimination in the workplace, Florida

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