Marcel Neergaard is a very intelligent and brave eleven-year old boy whose parents were forced to homeschool him because of “severe” anti-gay bullying fueled by Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. Now he’s decided to speak out — and fight back.
The language in the “Don’t Say Gay” bills, authored and repeatedly, annually introduced in the Senate by the infamous Senator Stacey Campfield, and in the House by Rep. John Ragan, is so severe that it would force any school official to “out” to their parents any student who discusses homosexuality, would require a teacher to hand any student who discusses homosexuality a referral to a mental health professional, and forbids the discussion of anything related to homosexuality, labeling it harmful to the health of students — among other perverse and dangerous requirements.
Marcel explains in this heart-warming and heart-breaking video and his Huffington Post op-ed:
If I had gone back to public school, there is a great possibility that I would have taken my own life. That possibility would have grown if a certain bill introduced in my home state of Tennessee had passed into law. This bill was known as the “don’t say gay” bill. Though that bill never became a law, Oak Ridge’s own representative, John Ragan, introduced a new version of the Classroom Protection Act. It is the “don’t say gay” bill, just more homophobic. While he crafted this horrifying bill, he received an award. I wrote a petition to take a stand against this.
I had just realized that I’m gay, and the bullies used the word “gay” as an insult. This made me feel like being gay was horrible, but my parents told me otherwise. Their support was tremendous. But as powerful as their love was, it couldn’t fight off all the bullying. I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I did. No one deserves that much pain, no matter who they are.
Last year, conservative education “reformer” Michelle Rhee‘s organization, the inappropriately named StudentsFirst, awarded Rep. Ragan their “Reformer of the Year” award. Ragan is virulently anti-LGBT. You’ll see some of his comments on gay people and homosexuialty edited into Neergaard’s video, below.
Marcel Neergaard concludes:
I am against a man receiving an award for trying to destroy all safe places for LGBT students. John Ragan is receiving his honor from StudentsFirst, whose actions are contrary to their name. My petition asks StudentsFirst to rescind the award to John Ragan as educational “Reformer of the Year” and to start supporting Tennessee’s Dignity for All Students Act. They could also support federal anti-bullying legislation like the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimanation Act. I know that Chris Sanders at the Tennessee Equality Project would be happy to work with StudentsFirst in creating effective anti-bullying laws.
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