HEBRON, Ohio — The founder of a Christian ministry whose online commentary rails against a “sissified” America and dismisses bullying as “the way of the world” was rejected Wednesday night as the next football coach at an Ohio public high school.
The school board for Lakewood High School in Licking County, Ohio, voted 3-2 to reject the recommendation of district administrators to hire Dave Daubenmire, a local alum who has taken other schools to the state playoffs but has courted controversy along the way.
Daubenmire, a right-wing Christian commentator who refers to himself as “Coach Dave,” has said children in public schools are being educated by “homosexuals, fornicators and defiant haters of God.”
Daubenmire was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union in 1999 for leading locker-room prayers while coaching at a public high school in London, Ohio. He was fired in 2012 as coach at Fairfield Christian Academy for what he said was being “too decisive.”
“Our school system does not need the baggage that comes with this man,” said Mary Miller, a 1991 Lakewood High graduate and resident of the school district 30 miles east of Columbus. Lakewood includes the villages of Hebron and Buckeye Lake.
On one of his video commentaries, posted in October, Daubenmire said he was “sick and tired of hearing about bullying” and called anti-bullying efforts part of the “homosexual agenda, to try to get people to not criticize or make fun of or poke fun at homosexuals.”
But at Wednesday night’s school board meeting, Daubenmire said “nobody is for bullying,” and he and his supporters accused others of trying to bully him into silence and Lakewood school board members into denying him the opportunity to coach.
Equality Ohio Executive Director Elyzabeth Holford said bullying has serious consequences that Daubenmire has trivialized.
“Do we want to live in a state where bullying is made fun of, as if it is not real?” she said. “Do we want that in our schools? Do we want that for our students?”
After the vote, Holford said: “I think the right thing was done.”
Some of Daubenmire’s supporters said his experience and success as a coach was needed at a school that one said has posted a 10-100 record in football over the last 11 years.
Elaina Carpino, a Hebron resident who attended the meeting with her wife, told the audience that coaches are role models for children.
“It’s not about winning games,” she said. “It’s about teaching life.”