A high school football coach and psychology teacher has been suspended from his duties for 10 days after he made anti-gay remarks, as well as derogatory comments about First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama.
According to reports last week, Bob Grisham, who teaches at Lauderdale County High School in Rogersville, Ala., was caught on tape blaming "fat butt Michelle Obama" for the school's low-calorie lunches. "Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She's overweight," a man identified as Grisham is heard telling students in the recording, which was released by local Alabama news site TimesDaily.
The teacher also reportedly said that "what [gays] do is wrong and an abomination against God," and, "I don't like being around queers."
An investigation into the allegations against Grisham was launched after the audio, believed to have been secretly recorded by a student, leaked to the media. Grisham told the Times Daily in an earlier interview that he "misspoke."
On Monday, the Lauderdale County Board of Education met to decide the teacher's fate. On Tuesday, TODAY reported that while Grisham will keep his teaching job at the school, he has been "suspended for 10 days without pay." Grisham will stop teaching his psychology class until the suspension is up; his coaching job was not discussed by the board, according to TODAY. He will also need to attend "sensitivity training."
Though some community and board members believe that Grisham's punishment was overkill, Ralph Young, a member of LGBT group Equality Alabama, told the Times Daily that the board's decision "sends a mixed signal to gay and lesbian students in Lauderdale County."
“All students should feel safe, welcomed and able to learn,” Young said. “I don’t think [these students’] concerns were addressed...”
James Robinson of Huntville's GLBT Advocacy and Youth Services concurred.
"Every time that I listen to this recording, I become angrier and angrier," Robinson told ABC local affiliate WAAY-TV last week. "This is wrong, unethical, unprofessional, on so many levels, that there should be no question that if it is verified that this happened in a classroom, that this teacher should be removed from his position."
What do you think -- was the punishment too harsh or too lenient? Tell us in the comments below.
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