Posted 29 March 2012 - 06:30 PM
Okay, here goes - pardon my posting of "War and Peace"...
I am a current OBS employee out of LAX. I've posted on here before - I'm the one who's the "****" about terminology (it's TA/S, not "SCA") Here are some answers to a lot of questions: A LARGE percentage of Amtrak employees are gay (or GLBT if you prefer, as we do have all those and more), in every department, including several members of upper management. Like other parts of the travel industry, gay people tend more toward the front line (i.e., OBS is something like a quarter gay, where TandE, Mechanical, etc., tend to be more like 10 percent, maybe a little more. Amtrak has an explicit nondiscrimination policy toward all LGBT people. Some gay people working for Amtrak are more obvious than others, but you can bet there there are at least one or two on every single long distance train crew, and as likely as not on Sufliners (and Acela, etc.).
Attitudes vary, but most nongay employees are tolerant to embracing of their gay coworkers. Those who aren't wisely stay silent about it, as they could be reported to the Diversity Office for making homophobic statements, as they could for making statements that are sexist or racist.
As far as passengers, there's an informal "one strike" rule. If someone makes a homophobic (or racist or sexist) statement, and the crew is feeling generous, they will get one warning that such language is not acceptable. Company policy (as well as state and Federal law) allow those who won't or can't comply to be removed for being disruptive.
I treat our many gay travelers (and again, in the travel industry, the population of passengers who are LGBT is MUCH higher that the general population) exactly the same as the nongay travelers. I shot down a gay man who complained about a heterosexual couple who were holding hands and kissing (appropriately...they weren't going up shirts or down pants), just as I would if the situation were reversed. I never "assume" about anyone's sexuality or relationship status, unless they make it clear. As far as my own sexuality, I never disclose unless I'm asked. If someone asks about my girlfriend (and if I'm dating someone), I'll correct the pronoun for them.
As far as this thread, I feel it is appropriate for this forum, as would be discussions of religion or politics, if they relate to Amtrak. The Republicans by and large oppose Amtrak funding, and that's worthy of discussion. People have religious accommodations that Amtrak has to deal with (diet, clothing, etc.), and that is likewise worthy.
If a passenger is uncomfortable with someone being openly gay and working on their train, I suggest they find alternate transportation. Though frankly, finding a transportation mode free of gay people is virtually impossible. Gay employees are allowed to be as "out" as the like at Amtrak, as is true with most modes of transport.
On the gossipy side, I've been hit on by a few employees - of both sexes - and I've been hit on by passengers - of both sexes. I've never directly hit on anyone else on the train, even people I knew were to be gay, even if I found them attractive. Amtrak isn't a dating service for me. (I will admit to having had casual relationships outside work with people who USED TO work for Amtrak, but no current employees).
I'm sure I've met many of you, and I know that I've waited personally on Alan on a couple of occasions in the diner. As my gay friends in the Marines used to say (and have tattooed on their bodies), we are everywhere.