2nd Valor Christian coach says she was forced out for being gay

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A second former coach at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch has come forward to say she was forced from her job after acknowledging she was gay.

Lauren Benner, formerly the private school's women's lacrosse coach, was selected Valor's coach of the year in 2019.

In an interview with TV station KMGH-Denver7,  Benner said school officials, who confronted her in early 2020 about rumors that she was dating a woman, told her that "if I decided that I wanted to pursue a relationship with another female that I would no longer be in alignment with Valor's culture statement, and that I would be asked to leave."

She said Valor officials shared the school's "beliefs that homosexuality is wrong."

The ex-coach told Denver7 that she initially denied the claim that she was involved with a woman, but in summer 2020 acknowledged it.

Benner said she was deciding to talk openly about her situation after another Valor coach, former volleyball coach Inoke Tonga, said on social media and a Denver7 interview that he was forced to resign because he is gay.

On Aug. 24, about 50 students, alumni and parents took part in a walkout  outside the Valor campus in support of Tonga.

In response to Tonga's situation, Valor officials issued a statement saying: "Valor Christian High School embraces, loves and respects all students, families, and other participants in our community, regardless of whether or not they agree with Valor’s beliefs. As a Christian faith community, Valor requires its staff, faculty, and volunteer leaders — those who represent the Valor community and guide the spiritual development of our students — to agree with Valor’s Christian beliefs set forth in our Statement of Beliefs and in other policies, and to live in accordance with such beliefs.”

According to a biography posted as of Aug. 26 on the Valor athletics website,  Benner played lacrosse at the University of Virginia and the University of Denver, then served on the DU coaching staff from 2011 to 2015 and at the University of Louisville in 2015-16 before joining the Valor staff. She has been the executive director of the Colorado Girls Lacrosse Association.

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