TULLY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Tully Senior Tyler Johnson was thrilled when he was asked to be a part of his school newsletter’s Senior Spotlight. Every month two seniors are asked to answer a series of questions about their life and one of those questions was ‘What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?’ 

Johnson answered the question with, ‘The biggest challenge that I’ve faced was growing up gay and coming out. I had to learn how to become comfortable in my own skin and how to stay strong through bullying and all the negative experiences I had while trying to navigate through life.’

An answer that landed him in the principal’s office. 

“I was called into Mr. O’Brien’s office and was asked or was told I’m not allowed to have that in, I have to either re-write it or take it out,” Johnson said. 

Outraged, Johnson took to social media to share his story and it quickly gained traction, even catching the eye of Tully Elementary School Social Worker, Kyle Taranto.

“I was immediately appalled when I saw it.”

kyle taranto, tully elementary school social worker

That’s because a year ago when Taranto was just starting out at Tully Elementary School he said Superintendent Hughes asked him not to include he had a husband in his welcome bio. 

“It was extremely uncomfortable,” Taranto said.

Taranto says after he told his school principal what happened Superintendent Hughes apologized and printed the original version.

“I was naive and I thought it was going to go away and it was fixed, but apparently we still have the problem and my biggest fear when it happened to me was it was going to happen to a child.”

kyle taranto, tully elementary school social worker

That fear became a reality, leading Taranto to resign from his position. 

“You feel like we’ve come so far as like a society, but then something like this happens and then you realize we’re not as far as we think we are,” Johnson said. 

As for the administration, Superintendent Hughes released a letter to the community Sunday night stating that it was his original decision to not include Johnson’s response in the newsletter because he “was worried this specific response would stir up additional controversy in our school community, and that this additional controversy would then continue to hinder the work we are doing related to the NYSED Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative.” 

The letter went on to say that Hughes had changed his mind after watching Johnson’s Tik Tok videos.

You can read the full letter to the Tully community below:

Johnson received an outpouring of support Monday morning when he got to school with many of his classmates and teachers hanging up signs, passing out buttons and wearing pride clothing. 

Another letter from the Superintendent was released Monday afternoon informing the public of an Emergency Board of Education meeting for the District to discuss steps they can take to address the concerns brought up in Johnson’s social media posts. The letter went on to say Superintendent Hughes wanted to meet with Johnson and his parents in the near future to discuss the situation and apologize. 

You can read the full letter to the Tully community below:

Johnson, Taranto and members of the community showed up at the BOE meeting Monday night but were not allowed in as the Board immediately went into Executive Session. After the meeting Superintendent Hughes said he would be putting a letter out to the community Tuesday and was glad the community was supporting Tyler.