Gay Man Fired From Texas Christian Children's Home for 'Lifestyle Choices'

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Tuesday July 29, 2014

Casey Stegall, a caretaker for foster kids in Texas, was fired from his job after he introduced some teenage clients to his male fianc during an outing at a water park on July 4.

Stegall was working at the Children's Home of Lubbock when Lynn Harms, president of the organization, heard about the incident and accused Stegall of engaging in inappropriate public displays of affection.

"As a faith-based, church-related outreach providing welfare services, if you will, to children and families, there is a set of biblical values that we adhere to and live by," Harms told The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal for a story about Stegall's firing. "When you are implementing life training and so forth -- particularly with children -- to put a confused message out there is counterproductive."

Stegall told the Journal he had a spotless employment record and was often praised for his work, but was fired on the spot, without any opportunity to defend himself against the charges. He also noted that in the past, other employees accused of more serious infractions had been placed on paid leave until an investigation had been made.

He also said that his religious beliefs were in line with the organization's Christ-centered mission.

"My fianc and I are both Christians and we both attend church. I read the same Bible you read, I believe in the same God you believe in," he said.

Lone Star Q reports Harms compared being gay to being sexually promiscuous, or acting ungodly or aggressive.

"Presenting a lifestyle that is damaging to kids could be a whole lot of things," said Harms, adding that some of the children at the facility have been sexually abused. "It gets garbled in terms of sexual identity, sexual preferences, fears, concerns, retraumatization."

Stegall took great offense at this comparison and threatened to sue, saying, "I want my case out there so that people know that this is happening to people like me."

Pink News reports Stegall is now searching for a lawyer to take a case against the Christian charity, but is stymied by the fact that the group is funded by the state of Texas, which has no protections for LGBT employees. Houston passed a non-discrimination ordinance this May, and San Antonio passed legislation in 2013 to protect LGBT residents against discrimination.

President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order early this month banning discrimination against LGBT people by employers. The new order, however only applies to federal contractors, unlike the broader Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which remains stalled in the House of Representatives.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.