Bullying accusations against Dan Savage continue
Bullying accusations against Dan Savage continue
By Michelle Bauman
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- A teacher whose students walked out on a recent talk by a gay activist and anti-bullying advocate defended their decision, saying that they were simply reacting to bullying behavior.

“Their only way to respond to this bully was to do what we teach our students to do when confronted by a bully – walk away,” said Rick Tuttle, a journalism teacher at Sutter Union High School in California.

Tuttle recently accompanied six students from his school to a national high school journalism conference in Seattle, Wash. 

One of the speakers at the conference was Dan Savage, a gay sex advice columnist who founded the “It Gets Better” campaign to prevent bullying of gay youth.

In his April 13 talk, Savage told his audience that they should “learn to ignore the bullsh-- in the Bible about gay people.”

Dozens of students began to leave as Savage continued to mock the Bible, and he taunted those who left, calling them “pansy-a--ed.”

Tuttle told CNA on May 3 that he thinks Savage exhibited bullying behavior.

“If you single out one group’s beliefs using condescending, profane language, I believe that qualifies as bullying,” he explained.  

Furthermore, he said, Savage should realize that “targeting a persecuted minority” as they try to leave the room in order “to escape that verbal abuse” is unacceptable. 

Tuttle said he originally thought Savage would be speaking about his “It Gets Better” project and how students “could use their publications to curb bullying on their campuses.”

Because he knew that some of his students were Christians and may disagree with some of the things that Savage would say, he discussed with them the “value in hearing various and different viewpoints to help us develop and strengthen our own stance on issues.” 

But Tuttle was not expecting the vulgar and offensive speech that Savage was about to give.

In addition to profanity throughout the talk, Savage made inappropriate sexual comments, at one point describing how good his partner looked in a Speedo and saying that if he were there on stage, the audience would have to “pry him off him.”

Such comments at a high school journalism conference “wouldn’t have been appropriate coming from a heterosexual either,” Tuttle said. 

He added that while Savage has a right to express his views, he did so in a “very unprofessional, condescending way,” in a venue that was similar to a school environment.

At one point, he noted, Savage said his “It Gets Better” project, which has been supported by President Barack Obama and other leaders throughout the country, gives “the middle finger” to parents and educators who did not want him speaking to gay teens.   

However the talk turned from inappropriate to “hostile” when Savage “singled out one religion and began tearing down its sacred text,” explained Tuttle.

He said that Savage had clearly “veered off the topic” when he started “squarely attacking the Bible – and by extension those who find it sacred.”

When three of his students politely asked to leave, he agreed.

“As an educator I take very seriously my responsibility to protect all students from bullying for any reason,” he said, adding that this was the initial reason that he had wanted to bring his students to the talk.  

He explained that his fellow teacher chaperone escorted the three students out of the room, where they joined the other students and advisors who had left.  He remained with the three other students, whom he believes also wanted to leave but felt intimidated by the crowd of 2,800, many of whom were cheering as Savage spoke.

Tuttle described his students as “pretty well shell-shocked” after the speech.

In discussions after the event, he and his students agreed that Savage could have spoken against bullying “in a more professional, appropriate way,” without attacking religion and using bullying tactics himself.

“Unfortunately, that’s not the direction the speech went,” he said.    

Corrected at 9:30 a.m. MST on May 7, 2012: article incorrectly described the national high school journalism conference as taking place at Elmhurst College, Illinois. The April 13 event took place in Seattle, Washington.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:1-20


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 4:1-20