Target: Jennifer Gray, Lauderdale County High School Superintendent
Goal: Demand Lauderdale High School teacher be removed from his post for racist and homophobic comments.
An Alabama high school psychology teacher was recently recorded making tasteless comments about First Lady Michelle Obama and homosexuality. Bob Grisham, who also coaches football and teaches Driver’s Education at Lauderdale County High School, conducted his slur-laden rant in a classroom full of students.
An anonymous student provided a tape of the recording to Lauderdale County High School’s superintendent Jennifer Grey, who is reported to be investigating the incident. Bob Grisham’s rant begins with a question allegedly posed to students, asking if they knew who was behind the “600-calorie” public school lunches. He supplies the answer himself: “fat butt Michelle Obama.” Grisham allows a statement comparing the First Lady to a gorilla to go unchecked, and continues to use derogatory, fat-phobic, fat-shaming language to describe Mrs. Obama and her weight. Grisham goes on to suggest that America “is going in the wrong direction.” He adds, “I don’t believe in queers, I don’t like queers. 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.” Sounds of students muttering and laughing can be heard in the background of the recording.
Since the release of the recording to the public, Grisham has gone on record to state that he “misspoke” and has no hatred for any group of people. No action has been taken against him by the school so far.
While Bob Grisham claims to be an educator, his actions say otherwise. Promoting racist, bigoted, and homophobic statements of any kind is akin to promoting ignorance – the polar opposite of education. Considering that impressionable students were Grisham’s audience, the incident becomes even more irresponsible, unprofessional and unethical. Slurs against the First Lady and her weight, and against homosexuality, suggest that Grisham believes there is something inherently wrong with being overweight, or being gay. This is a damaging mindset, but to express such opinions in front of students, some of whom may be overweight and/or gay, is despicable. Schools and teachers should attempt to be a safe haven for students from all walks of life.
Lauderdale County High School’s website states: “It is the policy of the Lauderdale County School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age or disability in its educational programs or employment policies.” Bob Grisham’s comments are a violation of this policy. Sign the petition below to demand that Bob Grisham be terminated from his post immediately.
Dear Ms. Gray,
Lauderdale County High School teacher Bob Grisham was recently recorded making denigrating comments about First Lady Michelle Obama and homosexuality in front of a class of students. Grisham’s comments, and those made in his presence by others in the room, range from racist to homophobic to fat-phobic. They were a sign of irresponsibility and ignorance, characteristics that should never be used to describe an educator.
Mr. Grisham, as a teacher, is in a position of influence and power. Promoting racism, homophobia and bigotry of any sort is the same as promoting ignorance and narrow-mindedness. These mentalities should have no place in the American classroom, where students from all walks of life go to learn. Please take action and terminate Mr. Grisham immediately. Do not let this incident go unpunished.
[Your Name Here]
Image Credit: Sean MacEntee @ Flickr.