Tim Torkildson was employed as a social media specialist for Nomen Global Language Center where, among other things, he managed the tutoring service's blog. NGLC specializes in English as a second language classes for foreign students and recent immigrants.
In mid-July, Torkildson was called into the office of NGLC owner Clarke Woodger, who fired him for a recent blog post explaining homophones -- two words that sound, and in many cases are spelled, the same way but have two different meanings, such as road, rode and rowed.
"Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality," Woodger said to Torkildson according to an account posted on Torkildson's personal blog. Woodger then allegedly fired Torkildson for the offense.
Seeing as words like homogenized and Homo sapiens don't seem to confuse anyone, Woodger's reason for concern could be interpreted as homophobic in nature and more offensive than the perceived LGBT implications of "homophone."
"People at this level of English ... may see the 'homo' side and think it has something to do with gay sex," Woodger rationalized to the Salt Lake Tribune.
It's not unlikely that's the first place Woodger's mind went, given his reaction and Torkildson's claim that Woodger admitted he was unfamiliar with the basic linguistic term.
"I had to look up the word 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."
Despite coming off as both uneducated and homophobic, Torkildson insists the firing was not an act of knee-jerk bigotry, telling reporters, "[Woodger]'s an understanding guy."
"I would call him broad-minded."