A Kentucky teacher claims he was discriminated against after he publicly came out as bisexual on social media.
Nicholas Breiner said he spent most of his life in the closet—hiding his orientation from his closest friends and family. He only decided to come out after a student of his, who was struggling with her own sexuality, threatened to kill herself.
“Over spring break of 2017, I received a frantic text from another student who had just received this young lady’s suicide note. I rushed out to her house with police and, thankfully, we got to her in time,” Breiner recalled.
“If she knew long before that I, a teacher she liked and had a good relationship with, knew exactly what she was feeling, would she have gotten to that point? It’s impossible to know but, with the possibility that I could save even a single life, I could no longer ethically stay in the closet. I needed to value my students’ safety and well-being over my own privacy,” he explained.
And so it was, on April 7, 2017, Breiner openly announced his sexuality on Instagram. Three days later, he was asked to report to the school office.
“I was cautioned about being open with my sexuality in a small Eastern Kentucky town,” Breiner claimed. “That a number of parents were concerned that I would be actively trying to change their children’s religious beliefs.”
A month later, he was fired from his teaching position at J.B. McNabb Middle School in Mount Sterling. According Courier Journal, there are only 10 cities in the state that offer civil rights protections for LGBT+ folks—and Mount Sterling isn’t one of them. But that hasn’t stopped Breiner from pursuing justice.
The teacher-turned-activist took matters into his own hands when he filed a federal lawsuit against Montgomery County schools. U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell dismissed the case last month, arguing that federal law does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation. But Breiner disagrees, and is appealing Caldwell’s ruling.