Nashville Fire Department employee charged with misconduct over homophobic comments

A Nashville Fire Department paramedic has been charged with five counts of misconduct after posting a Facebook rant against gay and lesbian fire department employees.

Kevin Kennedy, a paramedic with the Nashville Fire Department EMS Bureau, posted his comments in mid-August in a closed Facebook group that was part of Nashville Fire Department's Deputy Chief Steve Meador's page. Kennedy directed some of his remarks at particular GLBT individuals on the department, expressing a desire for "the queers" to "crawl back into the closet."

After department officials learned of Kennedy's comments, he was immediately placed on administrative leave. His case will now be considered at a hearing Sept. 12, where Kennedy could face disciplinary actions up to and including termination.

The 30-day waiting period will allow time for Kennedy to attain legal representation if he chooses to do so.

"At the meeting, Mr. Kennedy will be permitted to present any additional information on his behalf," says Deputy Chief Kim Lawson, leader of the department's Community Services Bureau. "The chief (Stephen Halford) will then have up to 10 days to make a decision on the matter."

Out & About Newspaper has obtained Kennedy's letter of charges, and the violations include: the use or threat of violence or intimidation when directed toward another person; participation in a pattern of harassment toward an employee of Metropolitan government; any failure of good behavior which reflects discredit upon himself, the department and/or the Metropolitan government; and conduct unbecoming an employee of the Metropolitan government.

A separate clause states that employees may be disciplined for content on social media sites if it violates departmental rules.

"Because you have chosen to disparage some of your co-workers in your expression of your opinion, some gay citizens under your emergency care may wonder if you would render the best medical care to them if you were to suspect or have knowledge that they were gay and/or possibly lesbian, bisexual, or transgender," the letter reads.

Kennedy's actions go against the department's goal of maintaining a protective and welcoming environment, Lawson says.

"We are taking this matter very seriously," she says. "It's been a very thorough investigation, and these are some very serious charges. They are some of the more serious charges I've ever seen."

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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