A high school football coach in Alabama who made derogatory remarks against gay people in front of a psychology class has been suspended by the school for 10 days without pay.
"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," Lauderdale County High School football coach Bob Grisham said last month. He also insulted first lady Michelle Obama, calling her "a big fat gorilla."
"I misspoke in a debate-type situation," Grisham tried to explain after it was revealed that a student had taped his comments and posted the video online. "I have no hatred toward anyone or any group. People that know my heart, they know that."
The Lauderdale County School Board decided to suspend Grisham on Monday and ordered him to attend mandatory sensitivity classes and meet with the assistant superintendent once a month, WAFF reported.
Some parents of children who studied under Grisham defended the football coach, calling him a "good Christian man" who "misspoke."
"I think it's fair because I'm a big supporter of Mr. Grisham. I've known him for years," Lee Barclay said of the 10 day punishment. "He's taught my children. My son played football under him. He's a good Christian man; he just misspoke that day."
Another parent, Christine Perkins, argued that the punishment should have been tougher: "I think he should be suspended more days than they gave him because we all have thoughts and thinking in our mind but don't say it out loud to kids."
The Times Daily revealed that Grisham has been at Lauderdale County School since 1991, and has served as a teacher and head football coach for the past five years. His team had reached the state semifinals this past season before being eliminated.
Some prominent Christian leaders, such as Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California, have spoken out against intolerance of homosexuals, though he affirmed that being tolerant of someone does not mean showing approval.
"The problem is that tolerant has changed its meaning. It used to mean 'I may disagree with you completely, but I will treat you with respect.' Today, tolerant means – 'you must approve of everything I do.' There's a difference between tolerance and approval. Jesus accepted everyone no matter who they were. He doesn't approve of everything I do, or you do, or anybody else does either. You can be accepting without being approving," Warren said on CBS "This Morning" in November.