The mayor of Porterville, California -- the Central Valley city that made headlines last year when it rescinded its LGBT Pride Month proclamation -- has some thoroughly appalling advice for children who are victims of bullying: just "grow a pair."
That was Mayor Cameron Hamilton's response to a proposal from city councilwoman and former mayor Virginia Gurrola, who asked the council to support a local student-led program called "Safe Zones." The program provides safe spaces for bullied kids to go when they're being harassed; the safe zones are marked by a placard or a sticker. But Hamilton, a notorious homophobe, wasn't interested.
"I'm against bullying, but I'm getting damn tired of it being used as a mantra for everything, and the ills of the world," said Mayor Cameron Hamilton. "All most people just have to grow a pair, and stick up for them damn selves."
"It's hard to just grow a pair when you're a 10 year old girl," responded Councilwoman Virginia Gurrola.
"Then maybe the other 10 year olds that think they want to stop bullying will stand up for her, instead of a safe zone and a placard and a bunch of training that goes on," Hamilton said in response.
Writing in the Visalia Times-Delta, Jim Reeves explains that the reason for the mayor's opposition is because he doesn't want to take any action that would help LGBT kids:
At the Council meeting, Virginia Gurrola requested the city consider supporting the "Safe Zone" project being started by students at local schools. With their trusty laptops in front of them, some of the council members did an immediate search on "Safe Zone".
As there are several programs with that name around the country, and many of them geared towards the LGBT community, a red flag (or more precisely, a rainbow flag) went up. Hamilton, [Brian] Ward, and [Greg] Shelton will do nothing that might support the LGBT community. They will allow bullying to go on, if attacking it means giving any shelter or support to gay kids in the city.
Mayor Hamilton and councilmen Ward and Shelton are a disgrace to their community. Shame on them for being unwilling to protect the most vulnerable members of their community.
Video of Mayor Hamilton's remarks is after the jump. Start at 6:25.