A series of text messages between a gay drama teacher and a parent who withdrew their child from his classes because of his sexuality have gone viral, thanks to his brilliant response.
Michael Neri, who has been teaching drama for nine years in Kidderminster, received a message stating that the parent no longer wanted their child to participate in his drama classes because they did not agree with his ‘lifestyle’.
‘As a Christian I cannot allow my children to be influenced by unconventional ideas,’ they wrote. ‘It is our belief that a man should marry a woman. I look forward to receiving my deposit which you may post to me via cheque.’
Shocked by the suggestion that his choice of partner affected his ability to teach a class, Michael sent back a carefully worded response to the parent in question.
‘My sexuality doesn’t affect my ability to teach, just like it wouldn’t affect a doctor’s ability to treat one of your children should they become unwell. I’m sure your children’s health would come first should they need emergency treatment, or would you need to check their doctor’s lifestyle prior to that life saving operation?’ he replied.
‘I wish you luck finding an appropriate stage school that meets your needs, however from experience I find that theatre without gays is like cooking without spices.’
‘Unfortunately deposits are not refundable but don’t worry, your deposit has been donated to Stonewall, a LGBT charity,’ he added.
Michael then shared the exchange on his drama school’s Facebook page, where it received almost 700 shares and more than 100 comments.
‘Wow that is unbelievable.. Can’t believe this kind of prejudice still exists.. Your reply is fantastic..,’ one supporter said, whilst another simply asked, ‘Where do i sign my kids up?’
‘I found [the text] hurtful; however, life is too short to worry about what other people think,’ Michael told Buzzfeed News. ‘I always preach to my students, “Be yourself, life would be boring if everyone was the same.” I simply put my words into action for myself.’
Michael teaching a class for this year’s musical production
However, despite the initial upset, he said that the feedback on his post has been ‘overwhelming’.
‘I put it online for my students and parents to see; I had no idea it would go viral! The love and support from my students and their families has been so humbling.’