Following a petition spearheaded by 11-year-old LGBT activist Marcel Neergaard, the StudentsFirst organization has decided to officially rescind the “education reformer of the year” title, which they previously awarded to anti-gay Tennessee Representative John Ragan.
Last month, StudentsFirst offered Rep. Ragan the award despite his support of the discriminatory “Don’t Say Gay” bill and insensitive comments comparing the LGBT community to pedophiles, prostitutes, and murderers. Rightfully outraged, Neergaard enlisted the help of his family to bring attention to the issue, and ultimately force StudentsFirst to take back their word.
Neergaard’s petition on MoveOn.org garnered over 53,000 signatures, and in three short days, StudentsFirst issued a statement saying they “stand with Marcel” and will do everything the petition asked for, which includes rescinding Ragan’s “reformer of the year” title, supporting the Safe Schools Improvement Act, and supporting the TN Dignity for All Students Act.
“Three days. It didn’t even take a week to change StudentFirst’s mind,” Marcel told GLAAD. “I’m pretty proud. I want to make sure to thank all the people who signed my petition, because without them, it would not have been possible.”
“I can’t believe the way in which Marcel’s story changed so many minds, beyond just StudentsFirst,” Marcel’s father Mike added. “We heard from people talking about what it was like to be bullied as an 11 year-old. It was an honor to have Marcel inspire so many people to share their stories.”
Way to go, Marcel! You are a Grade-A badass, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll do for LGBT rights in the future!