Tully senior and faculty member join forces to create change

Local News

TULLY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– When Tyler Johnson moved to Tully in 2019 he was met with open arms by his peers.

Tully felt like a safe space for Tyler, but he’s now questioning that after school leaders told him to rewrite his statement in the school’s newsletter about his biggest challenge, coming out as gay.

“It just really like made me feel like the person that I’ve become over the past two and half years is someone I’m really, really proud of and the things that I’ve accomplished and whenever he asked me to kinda like get rid of that it’s kinda just like he’s trying to silence me and put me back in the same position that I used to be in.”

Tyler Johnson, Senior at Tully Jr./Sr. High School

Others aren’t silent either. Kyle Taranto, a Tully Elementary School social worker, is now one of Tyler’s strongest allies. Taranto says he initially received pushback from Superintendent Hughes about including the fact that he had a husband in his welcome bio. The original version was later printed in full. That was a year ago. 

“One of the first things I said was you know I wanted to apologize to Tyler…I’m sorry that this happened to you because it happened to me and I had the ability to stop it and I’m an adult and so I’m sorry for that,” Taranto said. 

Taranto has resigned from the district but he and Tyler are calling for the superintendent and high school principal to step down. 

“My message to Tyler is that we’re going to get through this and that I’m gonna do whatever I need to do for Tyler to make this better with him. Tyler’s my hero.”

kyle taranto, tully elementary school social worker

They also see a need for mandatory sensitivity training, but above all else Tyler wants people to walk away from this situation knowing that no matter what it’s okay to speak up and be who you are. 

Superintendent Hughes agreed to an interview with NewsChannel 9’s Madison Moore twice but canceled both times. He also said a community letter would be coming out on Tuesday but now says it will be coming out sometime this week. 

Tyler and other members of the community are hoping to speak at the next Board of Education meeting scheduled for January 24. 

A petition is also going around the Tully community calling for the suspension of the principal and superintendent, an independent investigation into the incidents, school-wide education and training for staff, and a diversity-rich curriculum for students. You can view the petition here.

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