A social media specialist for a Utah language school that teaches English to non-native speakers says he was fired for writing a blog post about homophones—words that sound the same, but carry different meanings—because his boss was afraid readers would think it was about "gay sex."
Tim Torkildson told the Salt Lake Tribune that shortly after his lesson went up, Nomen Global Language Center owner Clarke Woodger fired him, complaining "now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality."
"I had to look up the word" Woodger said, according to the account Torkildson published on his personal blog, "because I didn't know what the hell you were talking about. We don't teach this kind of advanced stuff to our students, and it's extremely inappropriate. Can you have your desk cleaned out by eleven this morning? I'll have your check ready."
It seems too ridiculous to believe, but Torkildson's former employer confirmed the incident of homophonia actually happened.
"People at this level of English," Woodger told the Tribune, "may see the 'homo' side and think it has something to do with gay sex."
Torkildson disagrees. He wrote that homophones are "one of the first subjects tackled when teaching ESL," and said his piece about them was very straightforward. The Tribune points out the Nomen blog published another post on the topic in 2011, apparently without incident.
Torkildson, a 60-year-old who enjoys taking quirky selfies, had only worked at Nomen for three months. Although he claims Woodger told him he's only suited for "clerical work," he's now seeking another social media job.