A Texas public high school teacher says he is being fired for telling students he's gay.
Josh Hamilton, 32, works at Grapevine High School and was put on administrative leave for reasons that are still unclear, but he thinks it is because he came out to a group of students.
Hamilton, a communications teacher, says he talked to about seven pupils in order to give them encouragement about an upcoming public speaking tournament, he was trying to inspire them.
“I was like heck, you guys watched me struggle for years through my own mental health battles, because that what it was, and come out on the other side of that has a happy functioning gay man," said Hamilton.
But school administrators say they are not considering termination based on Hamilton's sexual orientation, rather it's a consequence for breaking the school's student fraternization policy.
He admits sending a text to a student, but that was only because they were babysitting his child. He gave his phone over to administrators, "Because I have nothing to hide," he said.
A district human resources employee attended the meeting between the teacher and school board:
"Dr. Hamilton violated the standards by developing inappropriate relationships with students, providing inappropriate information to the students concerning his personal life, through text messages, treating students as family members or close friends and providing inappropriate personal information to the students."
Hamilton says the meeting was extremely uncomfortable.
"Sitting in the board room and hearing her use the word 'inappropriate, inappropriate, inappropriate' painted me to the public as a child predator," he said.
In an official statement, the district insists the teacher's sexuality had nothing to do with their bid for termination.
"Mr. Hamilton has been proposed for termination for good cause due to violations of the District's electronic communications policy, violations of student privacy, failure to follow written directives, and violations of the Texas Educator's Code of Ethics. In GCISD, we hold all employees to high standards for their interactions with our most important people, our students. His conduct is not acceptable for an educator in GCISD."
Hamilton plans on appealing the decision.