Hazard pool employee suspended, policies rewritten after expulsion of gay men

two men, caregiver were at city pool

kward1@herald-leader.comJune 19, 2011 

As protesters spoke out on Saturday against the expulsion of two gay men with intellectual and developmental disabilities from a city-owned pool in Hazard, the city took several steps to try to remedy the situation.

Kim Haynes, the city employee who cited the Bible while telling the men and their caregiver to leave the Hazard Pavilion on June 10, will be suspended without pay for five days because of his "failure to be respectful to the public," "unsatisfactory job performance" and "his use of inappropriate language" about pool policies, the city said in a press release.

The release also states the city plans to:

■ Issue a letter of apology to the staff of Mending Hearts Inc., the company that provides care for the two men.

■ Install a new sign that makes clear that the Hazard Pavilion is "available for use without regard to race, ethnicity, color, creed, national origin, age, sexual orientation or physical/mental disability as required by federal and state law."

■ Modify its rules-for-conduct sign to include its previously unwritten prohibition against "excessive public displays of affection," and

■ Provide additional training to the pavilion staff regarding non-discrimination laws and regulations.

Jordan Palmer, president and co-founder of the Kentucky Equality Federation, which organized the protest outside the Hazard Pavilion, said those actions are "a step in the right direction," but suspending Haynes is "still not sufficient for us."

"He's got to be moved to another area of government," Palmer said. The equality federation is an advocacy group for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.

Saturday, in addition to a press statement, the city also released an 18-page report on the investigation into the incident at the pool.

Conducted by Hollon & Collins law offices, the report included interviews with several people, including Laura Quillen, the Mending Hearts caregiver who had accompanied the men to the pool, but not the men themselves. One of the men is under state guardianship, and a state official told the law firm that the state was opposed to them interviewing him.

The report cites conflicting reports about the events at the pool and what prompted the men to be kicked out. Haynes said he saw the men, who he was unaware were disabled, "hugging" "getting friendly" and "fondling" each other in the pool and that he saw the men "fondling" outside the pool but that they were not touching each other's private parts.

According to the report, Haynes said he approached the men "in a humble way and asked them to leave."

Haynes said a woman nearby — who later was identified as Quillen — jumped up and asked why, saying "You can't do that, that's discriminatory."

He said he asked the men to leave because a woman with a child left because of the behavior and a man had complained that the men were kissing in the pool.

A lifeguard and a patron of the pool both said they saw the men hug and kiss each other on the lips while in the pool. Quillen, however, said that she did not see the men hug, kiss or engage in any other display of affection in the pool.

She said that when getting a refund for pool admission, Haynes said he was sorry to have to ask them to leave "but we can't tolerate what was going on."

She said she replied that that was fine, but it was discrimination.

To that, she said Haynes replied, "You need to read the Bible more often, we don't tolerate that down here."

News of the incident made national headlines. In its news release the city said that the manager of the recreational facility, Charlotte Pearlman, has been reprimanded for using "insulting and obscene language" while declining to comment to CNN. The city said it "extends its apologies to CNN and to the staff of Anderson Cooper 360."

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