Eleven-year-old Marcel Neergaard of Oakridge, TN is leading a crusade against the proposed Classroom Protection Act, that prohibits “classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction.” Neergaard, who happens to be gay, was bullied so severely in middle school that he is now home schooled. In an op-ed for The Huffington Post, he contends that the bill would have required teachers to respond to students trying to report anti-gay bullying by saying something like, “That subject is inappropriate for your age group.” In a press statement Students First, an education activist group, called the Classroom Protection Act an “ill-conceived, harmful piece of legislation that would have represented a backward step for Tennessee schools and kids.” The bill has since died in the legislature. You can read Neergaard story in full here.
Today is a landmark day for people everywhere who are standing up to hate. The United States Senate has passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first major piece of legislation providing federal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. President Obama has pledged to sign the bill into law. On this historic night, Not In Our Town will meet Judy Shepard, when she visits Danville, CA to read from her new book, The Meaning of Matthew. The event is a benefit for Not In Our Town, sponsored by Rakestraw Books, and we will be bringing our thanks and congratulations to Judy Shepard tonight. If you would like to send a message of thanks to Judy, please share it in the comments below!
By Darius Kemp In early May, the United States House of Representatives passed the Matthew Shephard legislation, by a margin of 75 votes, that would include sexual orientation into current hate crime laws on the federal level. A growing chorus of individuals has begun to hate the legislation instead of hating the horrible crimes of intolerance that people commit. The bill now moves over to the Senate for serious consideration. However, the passage of the bill in the House has fueled the disturbing rhetoric of opponents to the bill, and in turn this has worried its supporters. Over the past few weeks the recriminations have begun on both sides. World Net Daily (WND), a conservative reporting organization, refers to the amendment as the “Pedophile Protection Act” and argues that this amendment will criminalize the acts of people that speak out against or protect themselves from pedophiles, flashers or other “deviants.” They have mischaracterized the medical definition of sexual orientation and have included sexual acts, such as incest, into the law when the legislation does not mention anything of the sort.