It’s hard to believe in this day and age that a parent would remove their children from classes upon discovering the teacher is gay. It’s almost as hard to believe they thought their children would get through years of drama school without ever meeting an LGBT+ person. However, that is exactly what happened to gay teacher Michael Neri, who received a Facebook message from a parent who took umbrage with his sexuality.
The parent said: “Following our chat this week I have decided that [the children] will not be attending class on Monday. You have a strong reputation for performing arts which encouraged me to sign my children up for classes. I have recently learned of your lifestyle and as a Christian I cannot allow my children to be influenced by unconventional ideas. It is our belief that a man should marry a woman. I look forward to receiving my deposit which you may post to me via cheque.”
While Michael was understandably upset with both the message and the backward viewpoint, it was his dignified and measured response which made the story go viral. He replied: “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed to hear this. I pride my students on the respect and love they have for others and their passion for equality. You would only be infringing on our family. As far as I’m aware, my sexuality doesn’t affect my ability to teach, just like it wouldn’t affect a doctor’s ability to treat one of your children should they become unwell. I’m sure your children’s health would come first should they need emergency treatment, or would you need to check their doctor’s lifestyle prior to their life saving operation?”
He wasn’t finished there though. Maintaining a civil tone, he pointed out the hypocrisy of the parent’s viewpoint: “I wish you luck in finding an appropriate stage school that meets your needs, however from experience I find that theatre without gays is like cooking without spices (just my opinion). I hear StageCoach are enrolling but their teachers have been known to wear mixed fabrics which I’m sure you are aware is forbidden in the Bible (Leviticus 19:19).”
He continued with: “Please feel free to come see our musical ‘Happy Days’. Confetti will be used in the finale but please rest assure this is not an attempt to corrupt your Christian lifestyle. We just love glitter.”
He finished with the perfect response to a person having a problem with a gay teacher: “Unfortunately deposits are non refundable but don’t worry, your deposit has been donated to StoneWall, an LGBT charity.”
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