Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Acting on Conscience...True Patriotism

Wow...In the catagory of "things that blow me away" today I read a story about Will Phillips, A 10 year old Fifth Grader from Arkansas who has made the personal decision not to recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" until GLBTQ citizens are accorded equall rights. Really?...a 10 year old boy can get it but we get called to the mat for asking the gay community to? Amazing. This kid is awsome and my new hero....

The article in the Arkansas Times had this to say:

Laura Phillips is Will's mother. “Yes, my son is 10,” she said. “But he's probably more aware of the meaning of the pledge than a lot of adults. He's not just doing it rote recitation. We raised him to be aware of what's right, what's wrong, and what's fair.”

Will's family has a number of gay friends. In recent years, Laura Phillips said, they've been trying to be a straight ally to the gay community, going to the pride parades and standing up for the rights of their gay and lesbian neighbors. They've been especially dismayed by the effort to take away the rights of homosexuals – the right to marry, and the right to adopt. Given that, Will immediately saw a problem with the pledge of allegiance.

“I've always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said. “I really don't feel that there's currently liberty and justice for all.”

After asking his parents whether it was against the law not to stand for the pledge, Will decided to do something. On Monday, Oct. 5, when the other kids in his class stood up to recite the pledge of allegiance, he remained sitting down. The class had a substitute teacher that week, a retired educator from the district, who knew Will's mother and grandmother. Though the substitute tried to make him stand up, he respectfully refused. He did it again the next day, and the next day. Each day, the substitute got a little more cross with him. On Thursday, it finally came to a head. The teacher, Will said, told him that she knew his mother and grandmother, and they would want him to stand and say the pledge.

“She got a lot more angry and raised her voice and brought my mom and my grandma up,” Will said. “I was fuming and was too furious to really pay attention to what she was saying. After a few minutes, I said, ‘With all due respect, ma'am, you can go jump off a bridge.' ”

Will was sent to the office, where he was given an assignment to look up information about the flag and what it represents. Meanwhile, the principal called his mother.

And then:

Eventually, Phillips said, the principal told her that the altercation was over Will's refusal to stand for the pledge of allegiance, and admitted that it was Will's right not to stand. Given that, Laura Phillips asked the principal when they could expect an apology from the teacher. “She said, ‘Well I don't think that's necessary at this point,' ” Phillips said.

After Phillips put a post on the instant-blogging site about the incident, several of her friends got angry and alerted the news media. Meanwhile, Will Phillips still refuses to stand during the pledge of allegiance. Though many of his friends at school have told him they support his decision, those who don't have been unkind, and louder.

Even so, Will said that he can't foresee anything in the near future that will make him stand for the pledge. To help him deal with the peer pressure, his parents have printed off posts in his support on blogs and websites. “We've told him that people here might not support you, but we've shown him there are people all over that support you,” Phillips said. “It's really frustrating to him that people are being so immature.”

Please read the rest of the article at the link above as this boy truly is an amazing kid and deserves our support.

All I have to say is...Will Phillips, I salute you...


  1. What a cool kid.

    It is sad that he is getting bullied for it but sort of inevitable. The playground's favourite taunt it gay after all so standing up for gay people is bound to cause a little name calling.

    Good on him for ignoring it.!

  2. Dude, if I only was so awesome when I was ten

  3. @SwAmPeX

    Tell me about it. When I was ten I got caught sucking on the boobs of my next door neighbour's 15 year old cousin on the side of an underground reservoir.

    Kind of puts it all in perspecive somehow....

  4. wow. that kid...just wow. and at ten too. his family must be proud of him, i know i am

  5. To tell you the truth, I was jealous of this kid when I read the article on Queerty. Damn! What a great idea! "Out of the mouths of babes!" Kids sometimes say and do the most amazing things!

    Bryan & Jay [does any one of your friends call you Bray or Jayan or anything else? :)], what does your 9-year-old son Daniel think about that? Does he want to follow Will's lead? I know your kids support you and they know about constant fight for gay civil rights & equality and all your tremendous efforts in that direction (I remember Selena's poster that said something like "I love my two daddies"). Or you'd rather let them blend in and not being bullied for that (for they already have something to be bullied for — two gay dads)? What would you want them to do: follow Will's example or stay out of the trouble? be advocates for gay rights among their peers or blend in and try to look as normal as possible?

  6. The pledge was one of the things that really frustrated me when I was in the States, to the point where I wrote a long and rambling blog post a couple weeks ago about it. I don't think children should be being asked to say it without deliberate discussion of whether it is accurate or not. This kid is awesome! I can just see the right wingers being quick to say how its all about his parents though.

  7. There's no equivalent of the Pledge of Allegiance in the UK, and sometimes I think that's a great shame because it would be such a powerful teaching tool, especially for children. But when I see how it is treated by many Americans - selectively ignored, twisted or subverted to satisfy personal prejudices, in much the same way as the Bible - I realise that actually it makes little difference most of the time. The fact that I compared many Americans' treatment of the Pledge of Allegiance to their treatment of the Bible kinda proves how Humankind is far too often far too willing to ignore important principles when they are inconvenient.

    Perhaps one day, through the example of the people like Will Phillips, the Pledge of Allegiance will be redeemed, but it will take a huge amount of work.