Bob Grisham, head coach at Lauderdale County High School in Rogersville, Alabama is under investigation by the school district after an unidentified student taped him making disparaging remarks about Michelle Obama and gays in front of his students.
The head coach may face disciplinary action after he was recorded calling Michelle Obama "fat butt" and saying that "queers" are an abomination to God.
(Listen to audio recording or read transcript of the recording below)
In the 90-second recording leaked to school officials by a student, Grisham blames "fat butt Michelle Obama" for the school's low-calorie (600 cal) lunches and said that "what queers do is wrong and an abomination against God."
Another voice can be heard in the background supporting Grisham and calling Mrs Obama a "big fat gorilla."
Grisham tells his young audience that Mrs Obama was promoting low-calorie diets at schools in spite of the fact that she appears overweight. The coach also gives his students a long lecture about how the country is going in the wrong direction. He also tells them he does not like queers. He said: "I don't hate them as a person but what they do is wrong, it's an abomination against God... I don't like being around queers."
The Times Daily reports that school district superintendent Jennifer Gray said the tape was sent to her via email. She also said the district was looking into the incident.
According to the Times Daily, Gray said school board members will meet on February 14 to determine if Grisham should face disciplinary action for his unguarded comments. The Daily Mail reports school officials said that since the story broke Grisham has been away from the school .
The tape was also sent to a local media outlet WAAY31.
The local LGBT community has condemned Grisham's comments and called on school authorities to fire him. WAAY-TV reports that James Robinson of GLBT Advocacy and Youth Services, said: "Every time I listen to this recording, I become angrier and angrier." He added, "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."
A group called Alabama Citizens for Equality have started an online petition for the Lauderdale County school system to fire Grisham. High School Sport reports the group said: "With Alabama's rich history of ignoring, encouraging, and often inciting prejudice or hatred towards minority groups, this speech should never be tolerated within school walls."
However, some have supported the beleaguered coach. WAAY-TV reports that a student at the high school said: "I think it's been taken overboard and people should just understand, what he meant was a joke."
But Robinson of GLBT Advocacy and Youth Services did not think Grisham's comments were funny. He said: "This is undoubtedly a situation of bullying. It's verbal bullying. It's emotional bullying."
Grisham later admitted to the Times Daily that he misspoke in a class discussion about the state of the country. He said: "I have no hatred toward anyone or any group. People that know my heart, they know that."
Raw Story reports Grisham was once named coach of the year. He has been employed by the school district since 1991, the Daily Mail reports. He has also been head coach at the Lauderdale County High School in the past five years and led the tigers to three straight season of 10 or more wins.
The Lauderdale County High School website says that Grisham also teaches driver's education and psychology. He graduated from Lauderdale County High School in 1984. He holds a social science degree from Athens State College and a Master's degree in learning disabilities from University of North Alabama.
This is not the first time that Michelle Obama has been called fat. The reference to the First Lady as "fat butt" originated from and incident in which Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner was overheard calling her fat. Digital Journal reports he was overheard saying over phone at the Reagan National Airport, “She lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself." The Republican politician later wrote an official apology to the first lady.
A Transcript of Bob Grisham's comments (Times Daily):
Grisham: Like those lunches - you get 600-calorie lunches - you know who's behind that?
Different voice: Michelle Obama
Grisham: Fat butt Michelle Obama
(Giggling in background)
Grisham: And look … look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She's overweight.
Different voice: Big fat gorilla
Grisham: I'm serious. Y'all, our country is, is, is going in the wrong direction.
Different voice: It's going straight to hell.
Grisham: You'd better be aware of it. And people running around like, oh it'll get better, it'll get better. No, it ain't gone get no better until things change. I can give you example after example of that, but I don't want to use any local names to give you examples. Things won't get better until there's a change in some areas and stuff. And you know what his platform was? Change. We're gone change. We're all … aw it's OK …. for … and … y'all can get pissed off at me or not. You can go tell the principal, you can call the superintendent and tell her. I don't believe in queers, I don't like queers. I don't … I don't hate them as a person but what they do is wrong, it's an abomination against God. I don't like being around queers.