Anti-Gay Alabama Teacher Barely Gets Punished for Offensive Remarks

Bob Grisham, the Psychology teacher and head football coach at Lauderdale County High School in Alabama who was caught on audiotape making anti-gay and racist remarks in class, has been suspended:

… Grisham… was suspended for 10 days without pay

Grisham will have to attend mandatory sensitivity classes and meet with the assistant superintendent once a month.

The board has also removed him from his 5th period psychology class, and he will be given a different assignment.

Some people were pleased with the Board’s decision; others think the punishment should have been tougher.

“I think it’s fair because I’m a big supporter of Mr. Grisham. I’ve known him for years,” said Lee Barclay. “He’s taught my children. My son played football under him. He’s a good Christian man; he just misspoke that day.”

No… he’s not a good Christian man. He’s just a Christian man, doling out Christian Love by making gay students feel like shit:

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.

He didn’t “misspeak” when he said that. He was only reiterating what many pastors say in church every week.

This punishment is a slap on the wrist given what he said. Relieve him of his coaching duties — that would send a message. Telling him “Don’t teach your psychology class with the student who one-upped you” is probably a relief to him.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • SecularPatriot

    This isn’t a suspension until hearing or a commission clears him?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    Alabama: making Texas look civilized since 1834.

    more seriously, this happens all the time, everywhere, in this country. i had some really racist, asshole teachers growing up. it’s fascinating to think about today, as an informed adult. it was just “normal” for us, in elementary school, to be told that jeebus was real and god was watching us and homosexuals were dirty, sinful people…

    the problem in this country is that we don’t pay teachers well, make them work way too hard, and discourage the best and brightest from becoming teachers. so we end up with coaches “teaching” psychology and spreading their ignorance to the classroom. the only difference today is that kids have cell phone cameras and sometimes are allowed to use them in class.

    • RobMcCune

      Actually in 1834 Texas was just about to secede from Mexico, in large part due to slavery.

  • Jasper

    It’s not like he screwed up with word choice. This was straight from the true corrosive loathsome core of the man. He said exactly what he wanted to say.

  • Rain

    “He’s a good Christian totally not gay man; he just misspoke that day.”

    There, fixed…

  • Anon

    I have to wonder, if Mr. Grisham had been any other religion would people be so readily defending him. If he had been Jewish or Muslim or held no religious belief, would people still be saying ‘he misspoke’.

    No. They’d probably be calling him a racist and a bigot.
    But because he believes in the same myth as they do, he is immediately unable to make racist or bigoted statements and these people are so good at denying reality that they seem to mistake ‘I hate gays’ for something else.
    It’s very hard to call somebody ‘an abomination against God’ accidentally.

    • blah

      How many people are defending him in reality. Just because a slanted blogger with an agenda reported 1 person who defended him (only slightly), doesn’t mean that Christians are flocking to his side to defend him.

      I’m a Christian, and I think what he said was terrible. He made comments that would make a student with that lifestyle be extremely uncomfortable in class and class/school should be a safe place. Otherwise there is no teacher/student trust.

      On the flip side, how many times are similar things said about Christians on this board? Obviously the audience is different but it really shouldn’t matter. If you live and talk differently depending on your audience then that makes you a hypocrite, the exact thing that you claim to detest right? Don’t the billboards claim that you are “Good without God”? If this guy is not good, then those who speak of Christians with the same venom that this guy has isn’t good either. I would argue that nobody is “good” in their core, but that goes against all things humanists believe right?

      And now, as normal, because I spoke out and brought up a good point against the way some people on this board act, my post will without doubt be “disliked” showing further still the true colors of some :(

      • TheG

        As of 3 hours later, nobody has “disliked” your post. Just wanted to point that out.

        Also, as of several years of this blog being around, nobody has told Christians that they will be tortured forever and ever and a day for their choices (including which religion they “chose”). I think it is much more “friendly” to tell someone their irrational beliefs are not reality based than condemning nonbelievers to celestial torture while making this life a living Hell.

        I don’t see many of your predictions coming true any time soon, Good Christian. Even if your post is eventually voted down, it doesn’t change that the venom of a brutal Christian bigot with a position of power is not “similar” to what goes on here.

      • C Peterson

        On the flip side, how many times are similar things said about Christians on this board? Obviously the audience is different but it really shouldn’t matter. If you live and talk differently depending on your audience then that makes you a hypocrite…

        Rubbish. That is hardly the definition of a hypocrite. We can and should speak differently to different audiences. That isn’t the same as saying completely different things to different audiences. I’m an atheist, but I don’t discuss my atheism in the classroom. I speak out against Christianity in forums like this, where it is appropriate, but not in the classroom. If I’m in a room with Christians, I’m likely to use a different tone in how I present things than if I’m in a room full of atheists.

        Taking into consideration audience and context is part of civility and good sense, and does not make someone a hypocrite.

        (FWIW, I’ve rarely heard anybody in this forum say things about Christians similar to what this “teacher” was saying. People here are much more inclined to attack beliefs than they are any classes of people.)

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Hemant never brings up religion in his classes. That doesn’t mean he’s a hypocrite, it means he understands the duties of his job.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Why is a coach teaching a psychology class? A lot of schools have teachers that also coach teams, but this seems to be the reverse. Why hire am unqualified coach to teach the course?

    • SeniorSkeptik

      Why is a coach teaching a psychology class?…….Because the history and civics classes were being taught by other more senior coaches who had first choice.:)

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      He’s not a coach teaching a psychology class; he’s a certified teacher who is also a coach. Searching his certificate here (under “Robert Grisham,” of course), he is “highly qualified” (that’s an NCLB label) to teach general social science 6-12, which (IIRC) qualifies him to teach psychology, sociology, civics, history, government, etc.

      • Gus Snarp

        I don’t think the fact that he’s a certified teacher means he’s a teacher who is also a coach. It just means he’s a certified teacher. He has to be to teach the class, I assume, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a coach first and foremost, nor that he’s actually remotely qualified to teach psychology in terms of actual subject matter knowledge and expertise.

        Also, there is clearly something wrong with our certification system.

        • blah

          True, but I would say there’s something wrong with the pay scale. If you want a psychologist to teach psychology, then you’re going to have to have incentive to steal them away from practicing somewhere.

          Just like if you want an engineer to teach physics, you’re going to have to steal him from the industry. Good luck with that. You think your taxes are high now? Just wait until you have to pay your physics teacher $100k! Instead of $45k

          • Gus Snarp

            No, I just want someone to at least have to show that they know something about psychology before they can teach it. An undergraduate degree in a subject would be nice, but isn’t necessary. It’s also useless in industry and so not going to cause pay competition.

            But in the case of psychology, I’d probably just say we shouldn’t be teaching psychology in high school in the first place, especially if we can’t get a qualified instructor.

    • http://twitter.com/sandchigger sandchigger

      Because in most schools, coaches are required teach. Generally they teach history or civics as (apparently and relative to other courses like math or science) those are easy to get certified to teach. They didn’t “relieve him of his coaching duties” because that’s his job. I’m sure they’d be fine with him just coaching and not teaching, but there are rules and regulations.

      When I was in middle school and high school in rural Texas, we didn’t have a history or government teacher whose first name wasn’t “Coach”. It was a widely known fact that the school counselor (who was abysmal at her job and would blab any information you wished to keep confident with anyone and everyone) only had her job because she was married to the head football coach.

      • pagansister

        A thousand years ago when I was in high school, in AL, my history teacher was also—yes, a coach.

  • C Peterson

    Sensitivity training: in this course you will learn about the sensitivity of the microphones in the cell phones and other technology present around you, and will be taught to speak at levels preventing your embarrassing comments from being recorded.

    • Gus Snarp

      I LOLed.

      • TheExpatriate700

        George Carlin once had a comment about sensitivity training in regard to police officers: “If you need sensitivity training to know not to sodomize someone with a broom, you probably shouldn’t be a police officer in the first place.”

  • Gus Snarp

    Part of me wishes he were fired immediately, because I think he damn well knew better and won’t change a bit, but on the other hand, there’s something to be said for second chances, so maybe this isn’t all that unreasonable. He’s no longer teaching the course that he’s so obviously unfit to teach, he may learn something, and ten days without pay on a teacher’s salary may be quite painful.

    Of course, I also think he was protected by his Christianity and his football coach status. Had he been Muslim and not a coach, I think he’d be out on his ear. I could be wrong, though, even Alabama probably has a teachers’ union and there are probably rules regarding disciplinary procedures that prevent just firing him.

    He certainly needs to be kept on a tight leash and any further such outbursts should result in termination or at least a much longer suspension without pay.

  • Duke OfOmnium

    His being “a good Christian man” is actually the problem. Christians typically don’t get this — they’re wondrously unable to see the beams in their eyes. A bad christian man, however, wouldn’t have been so vile and full of hatred.

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt Eggler

    It is truly amazing how often being a good Christian is synonymous with being a crappy human being.

  • pagansister

    It’s Alabama—-no surprise. He shouldn’t even be teaching, but obviously he will get to continue—especially since he will have his “sensitivity training!” Right, that will cure his stupid mouth and attitude……NO! Bible Belt country—-I’ve lived in that state—-and have a sister who still does. She, however, isn’t anything like that fool—-

  • http://benny-cemoli.myopenid.com/ Benny Cemoli

    Hemant,

    Just poking around the District website I find a couple of what I call warning signs. For instance the District Policy statement located here (MS Word Document) has one of those “Teaching about Religion” policy statements (Section 5.15) that states teachers may teach about religion as long as they don’t advocate a “particular religion” or “religious belief”. I wonder what religion that would be. Wink Wink. Even more oddly the Lauderdale Country Harassment policy document that is supposed to be located here (MS Word Document) seems to have gone missing from their website.

    The Lauderdale Country High School website is also interesting. From the Fellowship of Christian Athletes page with their Bible quote to the fact that the school seems to have been promoting a purely Christian Evangelical organization and were going to celebrate their success at a school assembly. Linky Despite the misspellings if you Google “Angel Tree Project” you find this page which proudly trumpets to all on their mainpage:

    1.7 million kids need Christmas, and they need to know Jesus loves them.

    Then there is the references to “Christmas Break” and events like “the ugliest Christmas sweater contest” throughout the website.

    I am not saying that they have broken any regualations/laws or whatnot (IANAL) but I cannot find a single reference to any other religion besides that “particular religion” that wasn’t referenced in 5.15. Or was it, I’m totally confused now.

    And Hemant, you actually thought that the School District would do the right thing? Nope, and I suspect that the only reason he got suspended was for his comments about Michelle Obama’s “fat butt” and not anything he said about the gays. Both comments that he made were totally unacceptable but I doubt they would have done a thing if he had only said that he hates the gays. :-(

    Benny

    Oh, sorry I lied. The only other mention of another religion besides Christianity anywhere is in the brochure for the band fundraiser. They offer to have the Christian cross (6re) or the Star of David (17b) engraved on the paver brick if you so desire. Wonder if you could get he crescent and star of Islam if you requested it.

    B

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    meet with the assistant superintendent once a month

    Chance for a couple of Good ol’ boys to shoot the breeze and bellyache about them damned liberal queers and their recording devices, and how they’re taking this country in the wrong direction.

    I’m sincerely afraid for whoever it was that made that recording. I hope they make it out of that school safe. Whoever you are, it gets better.

  • Pluto Animus

    Another outrage:
    The student who recorded the remarks was expelled — for violating Grisham’s “privacy”!

  • Keulan

    Bob Grisham may be a Christian man, but he certainly is not a good man. He’s a bigot. Some people in this country really need to learn that “good” and “Christian” are not synonyms.

  • McAtheist

    “I don’t believe in queers.”

    Really Mr. Grisham? There is a lot more evidence to suggest that ‘queers’ exist than there is for your god’s existence.


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