PORTERVILLE, Tulare County (AP) — A Central California mayor’s remarks that bullying victims should toughen up and defend themselves has sparked anger among some city officials and gay rights advocates.

At a recent City Council meeting, Porterville Mayor Cameron Hamilton said he opposes bullying, but thinks it is too often blamed for problems. Hamilton said some people need to “grow a pair.”

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The mayor was responding to a student program proposing safe zones around town where children could seek refuge from bullies. Porterville is a community of 55,000 residents 70 miles southeast of Fresno.

Councilwoman Virginia Gurrola backs the safe zones and told the mayor it’s difficult for a 10-year-old girl to do what he called for.

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Melissa McMurrey of the group, Gay Porterville, tells KFSN-TV she felt attacked by the mayor’s comments. She says bullies often target young gay people.

 

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