Despite a local economy reportedly on the mend, several local GLBT professionals are finding that their jobs are not secure.
Reports from Knoxville, Oak Ridge and Maryville indicate that GLBT professionals who have held long-tenured positions are being fired for a wide-array of stated reasons.
With lengths of employment ranging from a few to fifteen years, there appears to be a pattern of dismissal of GLBT professionals in the area that transcends rational explanations. Inquiries into some of the situations involving GLBT employees have yielded no information. Answers are not forthcoming in any case.
Employers involved in the gay firings include large state agencies and institutions, federal employers and various local private businesses. One employee headed up a non-profit for which she was one of the original founders.
While some of the terminated employees do admit that there may be some merit to allegations cited as causes for their dismissals, the fact remains that in a community the size of Knoxville the firing of no less than seven GLBT professionals in the span of only a few months causes the raising of the collective eyebrow and sparks speculation about whether there is some sort of gay purge occurring.
Some of the terminated employees are openly ascribing at least a large part of the reason for their dismissal to sexual orientation. In addition, community activists who are pro-gay rights and other progressive causes have openly stated their fears regarding job security.
Most of the people involved do not feel free to join in a public discussion of the topic, but in private conversations will admit that there is the appearance of a pattern of firing GLBTs that goes beyond individual faults or failings.
“My suspicions are growing stronger,” admits one local gay fired from a prestigious engineering position.
Some question whether the results of the November election have emboldened certain persons in positions of authority, resulting in actions that may not have been considered previously.
One worker reported finding a toy stuffed donkey covered with stickpins waiting on the hood of her car as she left work to go home for the day. The incident was not reported to the police or her employer despite the appearance of an attempt to intimidate.