My name is Casey Stegall, and I am a 22-year-old full time college student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
The work I poured my heart and soul into over the past fourteen months was ripped away from me in a flash.
I am currently in college to be a Child Life Specialist, and had been working as a child caregiver at the Children’s Home of Lubbock, a Church of Christ nonprofit residential treatment center for at risk children to hone my skills and abilities as I advance in my career.
But on July 10th, I was called into the president’s office, and he told me: “I am uncomfortable with having you on my team because of your lifestyle choices,” and I was subsequently fired.
Hearing those words come out of his mouth made my heart sink. God placed it in my heart to help and love children, and that is what I do best—I cared for and loved every child I came into contact with. Now that source of livelihood has been taken from me, and I have been struggling with feelings of hatred, betrayal, and discrimination.
I didn’t even get a chance to defend myself.
My fiancé and I have been together for 3 years, and we have never once shown any display of public affection towards each other. Living in a very conservative town, we knew the risk we were taking as a couple.
When the president found out I was gay, I feel he did whatever he could do to get rid of me. Even the support of my direct supervisor, who joined us for this meeting, could not protect me. “He is the best employee I have ever hired,” she told him. All of this was to no avail.
After this heartbreaking meeting, the president told me that I could use him as a reference for future employment elsewhere and that he “would counsel me in the future to keep my lifestyle hidden.” I will not be following his instruction, due to the fact that I don’t want a reference from someone who doesn’t think fondly of me and who openly discriminates. This is who God made me to be, and I will not step back in the closet.
I still can’t believe that in the year 2014, discrimination is still prevalent and affecting so many LGBTQ people across this country.
The word needs to get out there that this is still happening. People need to know that this is hurting so many people who don’t deserve it. Discrimination is wrong, and it needs to stop.
I have spoken to many lawyers around here to take my case, but unfortunately, no one will because of Texas’ Religious Exemption Act, which makes my firing completely legal. I am not here to slander or hurt anyone—I just want the word to get out so people know this is happening.
I know God has a plan and a purpose for my fiancé and me, and I will not deter from him. He will open new doors for me. I know God will be there with us every step of the way.
Discrimination in the workforce needs to end, and I hope you can stand by me in the battle to see an end to it in this country.
I would like to ask for prayers and support for my fiancé and I as I search for a new job. Times are extremely tough, and finding Believe Out Loud has been such a blessing to us. It is wonderful to meet other Christians who share my belief that God placed us on this earth to love and cherish everyone, no matter what background they come from.
Thank you, and God Bless!
Photo via flickr user U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District