Will Phillips

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Will Phillips (born 1999) is an American student from West Fork, Arkansas. At the age of ten, while a fifth grader at West Fork Elementary School in 2009, Phillips gained international attention for his refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance because of social-political reasons.

Phillips objected to reciting the Pledge because he felt that, when LGBT persons cannot marry or adopt children, "there (is not) currently liberty and justice for all."[1] Phillips' protest was at first limited to a confrontation with a substitute teacher at his small Arkansas classroom on October 5, 2009. Since that time he has garnered international attention, including featured pieces at CNN,[2] The Huffington Post,[3] Newsvine,[4] and the Pink News in Europe.[5]

His story was covered on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where professional wrestler Mick Foley vowed to "bring a world of pain" to anyone who teases or harasses Will.[6] Stewart awarded Foley a "Medal of Reasonableness" at the 2010 Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear for defending Phillips.[7][8]

In March 2010 Phillips was awarded the GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding TV Segment" for his appearance on CNN. In his acceptance speech he encouraged President Obama to "use the bully pulpit of the Presidency" to promote equality for all Americans. He finished his speech by wishing the crowd to "Live Long and Prosper" and giving the "Vulcan Salute" made popular by the character Spock on the TV series Star Trek.[9]

In April 2010 the National Center for Lesbian Rights gave Phillips "The Fierce Ally Award" for his outspoken stance on equality. Phillips spoke to the audience about the need for legal advocacy groups to help attain rights for LGBT people.

In May 2010 Phillips attended the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's Respect Awards in New York, where he presented an award to Chely Wright, the country music star who had recently come out.[10] While in New York, Phillips appeared on The Joy Behar Show.[11]

In June 2010 Phillips attended the NWA PRIDE Parade in Fayetteville, Arkansas as the Grand Marshal and in doing so ignited a firestorm of criticism from religious conservative groups who decried it as inappropriate for a 10-year-old to be involved in a pride parade. Will's parents spoke out in defense of their son, claiming they had taken part in the parade for years and they were honored to have him be Grand Marshal.[12] Phillips was again presented an award for his activism and spoke from the tailgate of a pickup truck to an excited crowd.[13]

On August 15, 2010, Phillips spoke at "The Big Commit" in opposition to the National Organization for Marriage's DC finale to their 2010 "Summer for Marriage" tour. In his speech he claimed "My generation will be the change you most fear in the world".[14]

On October 8, 2010, Phillips spoke at the GLSEN Respect Awards in Los Angeles, California before speaking on October 9 at the Riverside-Inland Empire Pride festival in Riverside, California. On October 15, 2010, he was one of the Grand Marshals of the 2010 Mid-South Pride Parade in Memphis, Tennessee along with Constance McMillen & Ceara Sturgis. In his speech he spoke out about "The New South" as it applied to LGBT equality.

On February 13, 2011, Phillips was featured on the Nick News with Linda Ellerbee special: "Beyond I Have a Dream".[15]

On April 2, 2011, Phillips spoke at the Center for the Artistic Revolution's 2011 fundraiser in Little Rock, Arkansas. Later in April, he attended an event in which Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed into law SB 214, anti-bullying legislation. The Phillips family had lobbied for its passage since Will's being bullied for his views & perceived sexual orientation the year before had driven him into homeschooling for his safety.

On July 2, 2011 Phillips spoke as one of the Grand Marshals for the San Antonio Pride Parade. He spoke against the American Family Association and their involvement in Texas Governor Rick Perry's "The Response" event in August.[16]

References[edit]

External links[edit]