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Will Phillips

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] HuffingtonPost.com,[3] Newsvine,[4] and the European Pink News.[5]

His story was also covered on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where professional wrestler Mick Foley vows to "bring a world of pain" to anyone who teases or harasses Will.[6] Foley was awarded a "Medal of Reasonableness" by Jon Stewart 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, he was awarded "The Fierce Ally Award" by the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco 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 Straight Educational 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, Will 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, Will was featured on the Nick News with Linda Ellerbee special: Beyond I Have a Dream [15]

On April 2, 2011, Will 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. Will & his family had lobbied for its passage ever since his experiences being bullied for his views & perceived sexual orientation the year before had driven him into homeschooling for his safety.

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

Will Phillips home schools in West Fork, Arkansas and on occasion travels the nation speaking out for Equal Rights and in support of Civil Rights. He is in the 7th Grade as of the 2010/11 school year.

References

External links

GLAAD Media Awards acceptance speech- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTer4bBVeOI

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GetEqual.org video- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iho2Q5eWQyQ&feature=related

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Will's 1st speech for NWAequality.org http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgC9HsuAwaw

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Will's Tribute to Rifftrax.com & Leonard Nimoy

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Will's Drama Club Debut- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waV6TDX70n8

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Will on the Red Carpet answering questions- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ea4-DINTe0s






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