High School Coach Fired But Still Teaching After Anti-Gay Comment

The California educator allegedly used homophobic language in the locker room.

A California high school football coach was reportedly removed from his coaching position after using homophobic language in the locker room.

According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Morro Bay High School head coach David Kelley allegedly made the offending anti-gay remark last month to a junior varsity player.

“JV was sort of messing around and Kelley told them to stop it and get to practice,” recalls Rocky Brebes, who witnessed the interaction along with another player. “The student was sitting there and just smiling at Kelley not doing anything like getting going and ready and Kelley got even more mad and said, ‘Stop looking at me like a homosexual and get the (expletive) to practice.’” 

Brebes adds that he had never heard Kelley use any anti-gay pejoratives before this incident.

Morro Bay principal Kyle Pruitt called the incident “unfortunate and unacceptable” in a letter sent to parents, noting that faculty had received sensitivity training focused on marginalized groups.

Although Kelley was relieved of his coaching duties and replaced by the school’s athletic director, he has not been removed from his teaching position at the school.

Some players believe Kelley was actually fired due to his poor performance as head coach, but a Superintendent of Education Services representative was unable to confirm the specific reason for Kelley’s dismissal.

“Mr. Kelley apologized to the students and impacted families today,” says Superintendent Eric Prater. “That is the beginning, I imagine, of Mr. Kelley’s genuine efforts to reconcile his actions with the MBHS community.”

“We’ve made significant and intentional efforts as a school district to create safer, more inclusive environments for students and staff—especially our more vulnerable populations,” Prater continues. “This incident shows the distance we still must travel in order to accomplish our goals.”

“He is human and made a mistake,” says Jim Pugh, father of one of Kelley’s players. “He was being disrespected by a young man who thinks telling an adult to (expletive) off is acceptable. He is a good man who has nurtured and loved all of those boys.”

Student Alexa Ford, head of Morro Bay’s Students for Social Justice club, is calling for a conversation to help reduce prejudice and foster inclusion of marginalized groups.

“Open dialogue is not only valuable for youth, but for all, maybe even especially those in authoritative positions,” Ford says. “Hearing both sides of stories is crucial in making the right steps towards understanding. I wholeheartedly believe that seeing people, and not just teachers, held accountable for their behavior and decisions is beneficial to everyone.”

Kelley did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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