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California coach says school fired him for being gay

An openly gay water polo coach in California says he lost his job because of his sexual orientation. The man has filed a wrongful termination suit against the school that fired him during the summer of 2011.

The coach was fired after an anonymous individual sent suggestive pictures of him to the school's principal. The photographs featured the man eating a corndog and posing with drag queens. In one of the pictures, the coach was wearing eyeliner and posing with men dressed in women's clothing. Another photograph featured the man pretending to take a giant bite out of a corndog at a fair.

School officials say that the photographs were obscene but the coach says he was fired strictly because school leaders dislike gay and lesbian people. He says that he was held to a different standard than the school's other teachers simply because of his sexual orientation. The man is seeking to be reinstated, and he wants the incident removed from his employment record. In addition, he is seeking an unspecified amount in damages in connection with the incident.

The coach's problems reportedly began earlier in the 2011 school year, when three of his water polo players failed to turn in their physical examination paperwork. Instead of practicing with the team, the boys were made to wash cars, because they could not practice without their forms. One of the students complained to his father, who allegedly threatened to print pictures of the coach for revenge. Although the player said that he did complain to his father, he said the complaint exaggerated what happened.

The coach said that he didn't realize the pictures were inappropriate, so he was not concerned about their availability on Facebook. The photographs are representative of gay culture, he said, and should not have resulted in his termination from the school.

School officials have not made a statement about the suit or alleged wrongful termination.

Source: South Florida Gay News, "California gay coach sues high school for wrongful termination," Sergio N. Candido, June 4, 2012

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