Tell StudentsFirst bullying lawmakers are not educational "Reformers of the Year"
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We want StudentsFirst to withdraw their award to John Ragan as educational "Reformer of the Year." Instead, they should work to protect all bullied students, including LGBTQ, by supporting Tennessee's Dignity for All Students Act, as well as the federal Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act.
Why is this important?
Our gay son, Marcel, is 11 years old and lives in Tennessee representative John Ragan's district. Marcel was severely bullied in fifth grade and despite our support, contemplated taking his own life. That year the "Don't Say Gay Bill" was introduced in the Tennessee state legislature to prevent teachers from talking with kids like Marcel about being gay. If Marcel had returned to public school under those circumstances, we feel certain the consequences would have been deadly.
Now Marcel would like to ask for your help. Here's what he wrote:
Over a year ago StudentsFirst named state representative John Ragan their Tennessee educational “Reformer of the Year.” StudentsFirst continued supporting John Ragan with donations and fundraising on his behalf. In February of 2013, Representative Ragan introduced the “Classroom Protection Act” which the Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union called “disgraceful” and an even “harsher version” of Tennessee’s notorious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. On April 29, 2013, StudentsFirst made a statement which they felt addressed the situation. While StudentsFirst made it clear they do not support the bill, they declined to rescind the award. Additionally, they did not specify if they would support John Ragan and his efforts in the future. They also gave no indication that they were sorry for donating to and fundraising for the bill’s sponsor. There was no mention that they hoped to help repair the damage their advocacy inflicted on bullied students in Tennessee. The concept of changing the education system to put students first is noble. However, honoring John Ragan, and by proxy his “Classroom Protection Act,” runs contrary to the very concept the name StudentsFirst suggests.
For more information, see Salon: http://www.salon.com/2013/04/30/michelle_rhees_group_stands_by_anti_gay_honoree/
Read Marcel's article on HuffingtonPost here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcel-neergaard/taking-a-stand-against-anti-gay-bullying_b_3368922.html
Join us on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WeStandWithMarcel