Montgomery County middle school chorus teacher Nicholas Breiner posted on Instagram recently that he is bisexual. Breiner said he did that to lend comfort to some of his LGBT students who had been suicidal.
“I felt that they needed to know there was someone in the room that understood and supported them, regardless of who they were. As terrifying as it was to admit, I had to value someone else’s well-being over my own privacy,” his Instagram post said.
Breiner’s teaching contract was not renewed for the 2017-18 school year. Montgomery County Superintendent Matthew Thompson said there was no connection between Breiner’s coming out and losing his job at McNabb Middle School.
Some people in Mount Sterling, however, thought otherwise, and they protested Saturday outside the county courthouse.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
“We all really feel that it comes down to his sexuality, and that’s a load of crap,” parent Megan Johnson said. “He’s a great educator. There were several parents who showed up with their kids. Several past students.”
Thompson, however, said, “There is a great deal of misinformation about this situation.”
Breiner “was not fired or terminated,” he said. “The employment decision relating to his non-renewal was not in part, or in whole, because of his sexual orientation. However, I am unable to answer specific questions about the non-renewal due to confidentiality.”
Breiner, who was hired at McNabb in fall 2014, said he hopes that the decision wasn’t tied to his social media announcement. He said district officials gave him no official reason, and in Kentucky, “they don’t have to if you are not a tenured teacher.”
He said that after he came out, he had a meeting with the principal of the middle school, Paula Stafford, and Montgomery County Deputy Superintendent Rick Culross, at which his sexuality was discussed. “I was cautioned that ‘we live in a small town.’”
Stafford, Culross and Thompson did not comment on Breiner’s account of the meeting.
“Over the past several months, I have personally intervened on several suicide cases,” Breiner said in a statement to the Herald-Leader. “Thankfully, these students are still breathing, but the vast majority of the attempts were from LGBTQ students.” LGBTQ is the acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer.
“For years, it was my opinion that my sexual orientation was my business and nobody else’s. But when your children are in danger, you must re-evaluate,” he said. “When a child is ready to take their own life because they love differently than those around them, you must prioritize their safety over your own privacy. ... It’s impossible to know, but the chance that the knowledge that I am bisexual could save one child ... is more important than over a decade of living in the closet. So the need to protect my kids finally gave me the strength to publicly be who I have always been.”
“As both a member of the LGBTQ community as well as a conservative Christian, I am fully aware of the rift that so often exists between the two. It can be a tough issue to reconcile, depending on one’s religious convictions.”
Jessica Dunn said she helped organized the rally, which drew more than 30 people outside the county courthouse. “I felt it was our job as a community to show our support,” Dunn said.
Montgomery County High School junior Karly Hoskins said she protested because she thought Breiner was a good teacher and made an effort to work with each of his students.
Breiner said he recently asked students what was the most important lesson they had learned from him.
He said one of his favorite responses was, “Not all families are biological.” He added: “That is what this program is. That’s what this community is. A family.”