Porterville, California mayor, Cameron Hamilton’s comments during a recent city council meeting caused major outrage. As reported by KFSN ABC 30, while the Porterville City Council was discussing a proposed anti-bullying ‘Safe Zone,’ Hamilton voiced his controversial opinion. “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. When all most people just have to grow a pair, and stick up for them damn selves," said the Mayor Hamilton. Councilwoman Virginia Gurrola, who supported the effort quickly responded, "It is hard to stand up and grow a pair when you're maybe a 10- year-old little girl." Sticking to his position, Hamilton said, "Then maybe the other 10-year-olds that think that they want to stop bullying will stand up for her, instead of a safe zone with a placard and a bunch of training that goes on."
The Fresno Bee reports that the ‘Safe Zone’ proposal was a student initiative started by Burton Middle School students. The zones would be city-designated buildings where bullying victims could go to and get help.
Council members discussed the proposal and in addition to the mayor’s choice words, KFSN reports that other council members voiced, “…concern over the group's possible message of 'propaganda.'” Some Safe Zone projects are started with bullied gay students in mind, but that was not the genesis of this proposal. Melissa McMurrey of local group, Gay Porterville, feels that the concern expressed stemmed from not wanting to support the gay community. McMurrey said, "It's an opportunity for the community to come together, as a whole, and say that we're not going to take this bullying in our town.” Barry Caplan, a resident of Porterville and supporter of gay rights said, "It's just entirely inappropriate and another black eye for the city for the mayor to say something like that." In the past, the Porterville City Council overruled a request to declare an LGBT Pride Month.
The council’s vote on the ‘Safe Zones’ was 4-1 with Mayor Hamilton being the only ‘no’ vote. The Fresno Bee notes Hamilton said that, “the concept needs more work at the staff level.” Burton Middle School officials reportedly withdrew their ‘Safe Zone’ proposal.
Trying to explain himself, Hamilton said that his “grow a pair” comment arose because he had been thinking about a book by Larry Winget titled, "Grow a Pair: How to Stop Being a Victim and Take Back Your Life, Your Business, and Your Sanity." Hamilton told the paper, “I could have used less colorful language.” He added, "We need to stand up. These bullies can't bully people unless we let them do so."