High school coach Bob Grisham suspended without pay after ranting about 'fat butt' Michelle Obama and 'queers'
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The Alabama high school coach who said First Lady Michelle Obama's 'fat butt' was temporarily suspended over the disparaging remarks.
Head coach Bob Grisham, of Lauderdale County High School in Rogersville, Alabama, was secretly taped while ranting about Mrs Obama and repeatedly expressing his antipathy towards 'queers.'
The Lauderdale County Board of Education suspended Grisham without pay for ten days and demanded that he attend sensitivity training classes.
In the 90-second audio clip recorded on Monday and later obtained by the TimesDaily, the coach could be heard saying that 'fat butt Michelle Obama' is responsible for the lighter, 600-calorie school lunches.
Another voice is heard in the background referring to the president’s wife as 'big fat gorilla.'
Grisham continues his tirade, telling his audience that Mrs Obama looks like she weighs 185 or 190lbs and appears overweight.
The coach then goes on a rant about how the country is going in the wrong direction and says several times that he doesn't 'believe in queers' and doesn’t like 'queers.'
'I don't hate them as a person but what they do is wrong, it's an abomination against God,' Grisham said. 'I don't like being around queers.'
Scroll down to hear the recording
Harsh words: Grisham told his students that Mrs Obama is responsible for the lighter 600-calorie school lunches, even though she weighs '185-190lbs' and looks 'overweight'
Grisham has since spoke out in defense of his remarks, telling the TimesDaily that he misspoke in a debate-style discussion about the state of the country, but that did not stop him from being suspended.
‘I have no hatred toward anyone or any group. People that know my heart, they know that,’ he added.
Schools Superintendent Jennifer Gray said school board members are scheduled to meet February 14 for a special session to determine if Grisham is to be disciplined for his outburst.
Since the controversy broke, school officials said Grisham has been away on personal business and has not been back to school.
Class discussion: A student at Lauderdale County High School in Rogersville, Alabama, recorded Grisham's 90-second tirade targeting Mrs Obama and homosexuals
The LGBT community has reacted with outrage to Grisham's comments, with advocacy groups calling for his firing.
'Every time I listen to this recording, I become angrier and angrier,' James Robinson, of GLBT Advocacy and Youth Services, told WAAY-TV.
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 created an online petition to push the Lauderdale County school system to terminate Grisham, stating, ‘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,’ AL.com reported.
Some in the community, however, spoke up in support of the beleaguered coach. One student in the high school said that the incident has been blown out of proportion, and that Grisham meant his remarks as a 'joke.'
Grisham has been employed by the school district since 1991 and has been the head coach of the Lauderdale County High School for the past five years.
He has led the Tigers to three straight seasons of 10 or more wins, and this past season, he helped the team reach the state semifinals.
According to the Lauderdale County High School website, besides coaching the football team, Grisham also teaches driver's education and psychology.
The coach graduated from Lauderdale County High School in 1984 and went on to earn a social science degree from Athens State College and a Master's degree in learning disabilities from University of North Alabama.
Between 1994 and 2003, he served as a football coach at nearby Lexington High School.