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MNFD District Chief Facebook Posts Under Review

Posted: 5:53 PM, Jun 08, 2016
Updated: 2016-06-08 18:53:15-04

A Metro Fire Department district chief could be in some hot water over several recent Facebook posts.

Some said the posts were biased against the LGBT community, and some advocacy groups have questioned whether LGBT fire department employees have faced discrimination at work.

The Facebook posts, which have since been deleted, were first uncovered by the website East Nashville News.

They showed EMS District Chief Tim Lankford, who identified himself on his Facebook page as working for the Nashville Fire Department, publicly posting the following during the controversy over transgender bathrooms in Tennessee schools.

"The first man who goes into the restroom with my daughter will not have to worry about surgery."

Chris Sanders with the Tennessee Equality Project said with a post like that, LGBT members of the fire department needed to think twice.

“It’s not a threat against a particular person, but yes, it is threatening,” Sanders said.  “Given that he's revealed his bias, what employees need to do is look back and say, ‘Okay, was I turned down for a promotion? Was a friend of mine maybe not hired? Was someone I know fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity?”

Protection against discrimination based on someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation was enacted into Metro Nashville code in 2009.

Metro Fire officials said someone in Lankford’s position doesn't have explicit hiring or firing powers, but they did have some influence on discipline and promotions.

In a Facebook post following the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage, Lankford wrote, "I am so disturbed about the Supreme Court ruling today I can barely even function at my job."

“I don’t know why he has a problem, this is someone who really should be far more understanding of different kinds of people in the world,” Sanders said.

Sanders said he doesn't think Lankford's views represent those of the Metro Fire Department, and the Department says, that's correct.

In an email sent to all fire department staff, Chief Ricky White said, “We will not let the conduct of a select few reflect negatively on the overall department.  We strive to be a positive force in the community we serve, on and off duty, and we cannot uphold this image without you doing your part.”

The fire department said Lankford has been taking time off of work since his Facebook posts were revealed, and he was not available for an interview Wednesday.

The department said they're reviewing the situation, and applicable policies which speak against employees representing the Nashville Fire Department, which the department says includes listing the agency as an employer on personal Facebook pages.