Nov 17, 2009

This Kid Has It Right, Go Will!

Will Phillips doesn't believe that describes America for its gay and lesbian citizens. He's a 10-year-old at West Fork Elementary School in Arkansas, about three hours east of Oklahoma City. Given his beliefs, he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, specifically because that one phrase, "liberty and justice for all," he says, does not truly apply to all.

That did not go over well with the substitute teacher in his fifth-grade classroom.

The Arkansas Times reports that he started refusing to say the pledge Mon., Oct. 5. By Thursday, the substitute was steamed. She told Will she knew his mother and grandmother and they would want him to recite the pledge.

Will told the Times the substitute got more and more upset. She raised her voice. By this point, Will told the newspaper, he started losing his cool too, adding: "After a few minutes, I said, 'With all due respect ma'am, go jump off a bridge.'"

That got him sent to the principal's office. The principal made him look up information about the flag and what it represents. Meanwhile, there was the inevitable call to his mother.

At first, mom Laura Phillips told the Times, the principal talked about Will telling a substitute to jump off a bridge. When pressed, the principal admitted the whole incident was sparked by the boy exercising his constitutional right not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Phillips suggested an apology was in order -- from the teacher. When the principal said that wasn't necessary, Will's mother started venting to friends via Twitter. Those friends, in turn, told the news media. And what would have been a minor classroom incident has people throughout Arkansas and beyond choosing sides.

As for Will, he continues to exercise his right to remain silent. It can be rough at times, he and his family admit. He has his share of supporters, however, his critics are louder and nastier -- especially because he took his stand to defend gay rights.

"In the lunchroom and in the hallway, they've been making comments and doing pranks, calling me gay," he told the Times. "It's always the same people, walking up and calling me a gaywad."

Nonetheless, Will told the paper, he is sticking to his convictions. A reporter for the paper asked Will -- with all this talk about patriotism and the pledge -- what he thinks it means to be an American.

"Freedom of speech," he responded. "The freedom to disagree. That's what I think pretty much being an American represents."

His mother is proud.


  1. they should sue each and every student who calls him 'gay'

    we ask students to remain standing and respectful for the pledge and morning recitation of the Lord's prayer. No one forces them to join. It saddens me that students have more of a right to excercise their free speech in a private school than in a public one, you think that a school for all, funded by the taxpayers, would be a little more knowledgeable about what constituted free speech- maybe they spent too much time making sure church and state were separated or perhaps they were too busy looking for support that evolution is just a hypothesis...


  2. I went to public schools. In 8th grade I decided that I would stand for the pledge but I wouldn't say the words. I too had issues with the words "liberty and justice for all." Of course I wasn't the only one who took this stance. And more importantly, it was the Bay Area. And maybe it helped that this occurred in my US history class.

    What saddens me is that all these many years later, a kid could hold the same sentiment that I did.

  3. Way to go Will. Not surprising it takes a 10 year old to point out, how inadequate those words are in todays standing. (Hugs)Indigo

  4. Kids see straight to the heart of the matter, and Will is no exception. This is an act that will shape his character and is a touchstone for him.

    Way to to, Will!


Tell Me What You Think, Don't Make me go Rogue on you :o)