Tuesday, April 13

Lorain Police Chief Accused of Homophobia; LGBTQ+ Org Responds

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The Lorain Police Chief has recently been the subject of two separate complaints, alleging a pattern of homophobic and discriminatory behavior.

Chief Jim McCann will now attend sensitivity training following allegations he used inappropriate language against a police officer. The complaints were filed by Officer Kyle Shawver and Lorain Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3 President Kyle Gelenius, both accusing McCann of  making comments targeting Gelenius’ sexual orientation. The allegations included:

  •  McCann, in a weeklong series of meetings in August 2020, was reported to repeatedly greet officers with the word “homo.”
  • In  meeting in May 2020, McCann is reported to have intentionally mispronounced Gelenius’ surname as “Gay-lenius” as a joke with attendees.
  • McCann reportedly made a comment about Gelenius having “fairy socks” and a made a joke about Gelenius’ sex life during another training session of which Gelenius was not a part.
  • McCann reportedly called another officer “whiny bitch” regarding a union dispute,

The investigation concluded that McCann had made a series of “loose comments” that created a climate that led to the complaints. McCann has taken responsibility for his behavior.

“I fully accept responsibility for my actions as outlined in the memo from Safety-Service Director Sanford Washington,” McCann said in a statement. “I have taken corrective action and will fully comply with the opportunity for further training.”

LGBTQ+ Lorain County—a nonprofit organization dedicated to making Lorain County a safe and inclusive place for LGBTQ+ community members—has issued a statement in response, outlining the discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace and highlighting the need for more capacity-building, resources, and SafeZone (LGBTQ+ inclusion) training . Their statement in full:

We at LGBTQ+ Lorain County recognize that while significant gains in LGBTQ+ inclusion and equality have been made in our communities across the United States, there remain substantial inequities and discrimination. These structures that continue to prevent LGBTQ+ citizens from safely working and residing in our cities, towns, and townships cannot be understated. To overcome the barriers to fair and just treatment and the right to love who we love, we as a community must come together and stand in solidarity with one another.

While nearly 4.5% (or more) of the U.S. population identifies as LGBTQ+, including more than 1 out of 6 Gen Z youth and young adults, more than 20% of LGBTQ+ people have faced harassment[1]. Additionally, 20% of LGBTQ+ people are still at a significantly higher risk of discrimination when applying to jobs. Further, 53% of LGBTQ+ people heard “joking” remarks about the community, including 41% hearing jokes related explicitly to the transgender community[2].

The LGBTQ+ Lorain County Board is aware of the allegations of homophobia and harassment faced by Kyle Gelenius and his colleague Kyle Shawver while working with Lorain Police Chief James McCann. Following an investigation conducted by the City of Lorain, the Police Chief was required to undergo sensitivity training. Additionally, McMann was told that any further incidents of bias would not be tolerated. During a conversation between Mayor Bradley and the Board President, the Mayor assured LGBTQ+ Lorain County that bigoted or hateful speech would not be accepted by any city employee, especially those in leadership roles. Pending an investigation, if the city finds employees have committed hateful speech or actions towards a person or group, including the LGBTQ+ community, they could be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

LGBTQ+ Lorain County appreciates Mayor Bradley and the City of Lorain taking these allegations seriously and assuring the LGBTQ+ community and our organization that they are supportive and care for the wellbeing of all citizens of the city.

As an LGBTQ+ organization, we firmly believe that to make Lorain County a safe place for people to work, play, and live, communities must not tolerate this kind of harassment. We stand by our community while offering capacity-building, resources, and SafeZone (LGBTQ+ inclusion) training to the LGBTQ+ community and anyone who wants to practice allyship.

We invite all LGBTQ+ people of Lorain County and our allies to work together to educate, challenge bias and bigotry wherever it may be, and continue fighting for equality and justice for all communities.

The Board of Directors

LGBTQ+ Lorain County

[1] O’ Kane, C. (2021, February 25). 1 in 6 Generation Z adults identify as something other than heterosexual. CBS News – Breaking news, 24/7 live streaming news & top stories. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lgbtq-identification-generation-z/

[2] Catalyst. (2020, June 15). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workplace issues: Quick takehttps://www.catalyst.org/research/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-workplace-issues/

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The Buckeye Flame amplifies the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging content that chronicles our triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences.

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