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Tennessee student Marcel Neergaard wins battle against politician behind ‘don’t say gay’ bill

Tennessee student Marcel Neergaard wins battle against politician behind ‘don’t say gay’ bill

Marcel Neergaard’s voice, and petition, were finally heard and an education reform group stripped away an honor it gave to a politician who supports anti-gay policies.

Approximately a year ago the nonprofit StudentsFirst named John Ragan, a Tennessee state house representative, ‘reformer of the year.’ He is the co-sponsor of a controversial bill requiring teachers to out gay students to parents. Neergaard, an 11-year-old home-schooled student, sponsored a petition asking the organization to withdraw the honor.

Yesterday (5 May), StudentsFirst announced it was rescinding Ragan’s decoration.

‘Simply put, we must hold our "Reformers of the Year" to a higher standard,’  wrote Michelle Rhee, the groups’ founder and CEO. ‘So let me be very clear — policies that are intended to single out any student based on their sexual orientation and treat them differently are wrong.’

Between 2007 and 2010, Rhee was the chancellor of public schools in Washington, DC. According to the StudentsFirst website its mission is to ‘build a national movement to defend the interests of children in public education.’

In an email to Huffington Post, the youngster offered thanks to those who supported him.

‘I’m very proud,’ Neergaard wrote. ‘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 continued. ‘When I pressed the victory button [on] I actually got my brother to put his finger over my finger, because he really wanted to push it.’

Last week the student wrote an op-ed for Huffington Post railing against Ragan’s anti-gay legislation.