Some Concerned About ‘Extreme’ Rick Santorum’s School Speech

GROSSE POINTE (WWJ/AP) – Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum says it’s unfortunate that students will need a permission slip to hear him speak at a metro Detroit school.

Grosse Pointe South High School reversed course Wednesday and said Santorum can appear on April 24 — but students will need approval from parents to hear his speech.

The Pennsylvania Republican served in Congress for 16 years and was a conservative GOP candidate for president last year. The district said students raised $18,000 to pay for the visit.

South principal Matt Outlaw had canceled the event Monday, partly because the group sponsoring Santorum’s visit wouldn’t share a copy of his speech ahead of the appearance. But Outlaw said he spoke with Santorum by phone and apologized.

Grosse Pointe district spokeswoman Rebecca Fannon said some parents were concerned about Santorum’s conservative philosophy. She had no details about those concerns.

WWJ Newsradio 950’s Sandra McNeil spoke with Adam Tragone, with Young Americans for Freedom, which invited Santorum.

He claims Grosse Pointe Schools Superintendent Thomas Harwood decided to cancel the speech following a conference call.

“Dr. Harwood specifically said that he had a lot of problems with Senator Santorum’s views on traditional marriage and on education, and he found his viewpoints both divisive and extreme. Those are two direct words that Dr. Harwood used,” Tragon said.

Santorum’s speech, which apparently wasn’t written down, is supposed to be about leadership.

Tragon said this is a free speech issue.

“Speakers have their own opinion, and we should be able to hear that opinion — regardless if we like it or not … He should be able to speak regardless of what folks feel and think about his position,” Tragon said.

He said Santorum has agreed to take part in a Q & A session with students, following his speech.

Santorum said he believes he’s being allowed to speak because of “tremendous pressure” from parents and students.

Harwood did not immediately return WWJ’s calls for comment.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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