Threatening Letters Forced A Gay Kansas Teacher To Leave Town

"Queers will burn and so will you!"

A gay teacher in Kansas quit his job and moved away after months of harassment, including a series of threatening letters.

Shortly after Michael Hill, an art teacher at Nemaha Central High School in Seneca, came out last October, a photo of him dining with a male friend began circulating on Snapchat. Soon one of his tires was punctured and the word “faggot” was written in dust on the hood of his car.

He then began began receiving letters filled with homophobic slurs and threats of violence if he didn’t leave town. “Queers will burn and so will you!” read one. Another threatened “to take matters into my own hands” if Hill wasn’t fired.

This week, he shared some of the letters on Facebook.

“People need to know this kind of ugly hatred still exists in the world only by confronting it can we end it,” he wrote, “As a result of this I made the difficult decision to pack up and make a huge leap of faith and moved to Palm Springs.”

Hill reported the incident to police, but the perpetrator was never found. Crippled by stress and afraid to leave his home at night, he was forced to take unpaid medical leave. The school district was initially supportive but after seven weeks, he was told he had to return to the classroom.

“It was very frustrating, that my option was to pack up and move,” he said. The school board accepted Hill’s resignation on April 9, reports The Kansas City Star.

Hill was born and raised in Kansas, and taught community college in nearby Highland for six years before taking the job in Seneca, a town of about 2,000 residents, in 2009.

Superintendent Darrel Kohlman said while he couldn’t comment on personnel matters, the district doesn’t tolerate harassment, discrimination or bullying. “Mr. Hill was our art department,” said Kohlman. “He was the director of our plays, and he did a very good job as a classroom teacher. We’re sorry not to have him anymore.”

Tom Witt, executive director for Equality Kansas, called the situation “absolutely horrifying.”

Hill posted a thank you for all the support he has received and noted that the hate he received was not reflective of the entire Seneca community.

He added that he’s much happier in his new California home. “It’s a good place for me to be right now.”

Journalist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, whose work has appeared in The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing, and more.