A petition started by an openly gay 11-year-old boy from Tennessee, to revoke an award given to a state Representative who sponsored the state’s controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, has succeeded.
The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which would have required teachers in the state to alert parents if their child confided in them about their sexuality, was defeated once again in March. John Ragan, a Republican Representative who sponsored the bill, said he was “disappointed”.
The petition, started last week by Marcel Neergaard, gathered over 50,000 signatures, and put pressure on StudentsFirst, a group dedicated to the interests of children in public schools, to renege the Reformer of the Year award, given to Representative Ragan, back in 2012.
In an email sent to the Huffington Post last week, Neergaard, who has been subjected to homophobic bullying at school said: “I’m very proud,” he continued: “I want to make sure to thank all the people who signed my petition, because without them, it would not have been possible.”
“I had my petition up for less than a week, and it actually worked,” he said. “When I pressed the victory button [on MoveOn.org] I actually got my brother to put his finger over my finger, because he really wanted to push it.”
The founder of StudentsFirst Michelle Rhee, responded to the call to revoke the award, on Wednesday, denouncing Ragan’s bill as “ill-conceived and harmful legislation” which could have “cultivated a culture of bullying.”
Tim Melton, vice president for legislative affairs at StudentsFirst, said: “When it comes to this kind of legislation, StudentsFirst is clear that we stand strongly opposed to policies, statements, or actions that could create an unsafe or unwelcoming environment for any student in any school.
“In Tennessee and elsewhere, we remain committed to that and to working with parents, teachers, and administrators to ensure every student has a great teacher, parents have access to great schools, and that policymakers are making effective use of public dollars.”