Ryan Sullivan

Ryan Sullivan responds to backlash.

A sexist message on a sign has turned into a social media nightmare for one Salinas High School math teacher.

When Ryan Sullivan attended Hillary Clinton’s campaign visit to Hartnell College in Salinas May 25, he stood outside the venue wielding a sign that said: “Hillary Clinton not fit to be President. President equals a man’s job.”

Sullivan says it was meant as a joke—one that it appears thousands of people did not get. Sullivan says it was meant as a satirical statement aimed at those who believe the country is not ready for a female leader. His intent did not come across well. Instead, his sign sparked outrage both at the rally and on social media.

At the rally, people who were reportedly Bernie Sanders supporters tore up Sullivan's sign.

In social media, a picture of him holding the sign was shared over 1,000 times and hundreds of people called for his firing. Some shared Salinas High School Principal Judith Petersen’s email address to encourage people file complaints against him.

A day after receiving backlash, Sullivan responded.

“Disgusted by the statement on my sign? Good! I’m happy to hear you disagree with such outlandish statements.

Unfortunately, I have several family and friends who express the point made on my sign (mostly behind closed doors), I wanted to bring their message into the public forum to show how ridiculously outdated it sounds in 2016. Glad to hear it bothered so many—opinions like that should.”

Some remain unconvinced the sign was meant as a joke and opine that him saying so is meant as a shield for possible punishment. But it is important to note that last spring, Sullivan—who is accused of being sexist—wrote a thesis on the gender gap in high school mathematics classrooms to help teachers create a more equitable environment for students.

It remains unclear if Sullivan faces any disciplinary action at work. Petersen was not immediately reached for comment by the time this article was published.

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