"Go back in the closet, or find a new school."
That was the heartbreaking decision being forced upon Austin Wallis, a 17-year-old who posted an emotional video on his YouTube channel after he was allegedly bullied by school administrators. He claims that they said that if he wanted to stay enrolled at his private Christian high school, he would have to cease being open about his sexuality and delete his social media accounts.
Watch the devastating video and see what these threats have accomplished:
In the video, which has been viewed more than 200,000 times, Wallis breaks down in tears in his boyfriend's arms as he describes being told that he either had to pretend to be straight or leave his school.
"I was called to the principal, and he said that he had found out that I was gay, and that I was openly gay, and basically he said that, you know, 'I'm gonna call your parents, they're gonna get involved.' ... So the next day, my mom came in with me, and he basically told me that ... I had to go back into the closet ... to stay at the school. And I could never be involved in another video, or do anything that mattered, which is really hard for me, because this YouTube channel means the world to me."
Although Wallis doesn't identify the school, saying that he doesn't want to negatively impact the teachers and students who did support him, the Texas Observer learned that Wallis attended Lutheran High North in Houston. Upon being contacted by members of the press, Dallas Lusk, head of the school, released a statement written by Wayne Kramer, executive director of the Lutheran Education Association of Houston.
"Lutheran High North welcomes all students and their families to the LHN community," the statement reads. "We profess and proclaim our Christian beliefs with the foundations and authority taught in the Bible, all within the teachings of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. We respectfully require students to adhere to these accepted values and moral beliefs. Sometimes, as in this case, students have to make choices and decide whether their beliefs align with our community, and we respect their choices. We also respect student privacy and do not comment on any individual student or their actions."
Lusk indicated in an email to the Texas Observer that students at LHN are forbidden from promoting "anything sinful," referring to a so-called "morals clause" in the student handbook:
Immediately below the "morals clause" is the school's alleged non-discrimination policy, in which sexual orientation and gender identity are conspicuously missing.
This is horrendous. Although Wallis has found a new school to attend, saying that he didn't want to attend a school that considered him immoral, he was shocked that his sexual orientation ever became an issue with the school's administration in the first place. "I think it's ridiculous that, in this day and age, you can be excluded from your own school for being gay," he said. "When I came out, I knew I was going to have bullies. ... But I never expected it to be from the people who are supposed to protect you from the bullies, who are supposed to try to stop that."
The school's distinctly un-Christian actions haven't shaken Wallis' faith. "I am a Christian and I love my God, and I don't feel like this is what he would have wanted."