Ten-year-old Will Phillips may have just become the new cause célèbre of the gay rights movement.


It all started when he refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance in a West Fork, Arkansas elementary school.

Speaking to CNN's John Roberts on Monday, Will said he remained seated four straight days while his classmates repeated the words, "with liberty and justice for all."

"I was analyzing the meanings of it, because I want to be a lawyer," he said. "... There isn't really liberty and justice for all. There's ... Gays and lesbians can't marry. There's still a lot of racism and sexism in the world. Yeah."

Eventually, the substitute teacher started giving Will "grief" over his refusal to repeat the words. "What did you say to that teacher?" Roberts asked.

"I eventually, very solemnly -- with a little bit of malice in my voice -- said, 'Mam, with all due respect, you can go jump off a bridge," Will explained.

Seated next to the boy, his father covered his face, smiling.

Jay Phillips told King he thought his son was "dead" for rebelling in such a manner. "However, when I got home and I talked to him, the more I heard from him the more it became apparent that this wasn't a typical act of juvenile delinquency. This was a very a-typical act of juvenile delinquency. He, uh, he sat for four days and took the brunt of the criticism."

His father added that Will has apologized in writing to the teacher.

"I've grown up with many people who are gay," Will explained. "I think they should have the rights all people should. I'm not going to swear that they do."

He said that others at school did not react well to his principled stance. "They've taken from what I said the assumption that I'm gay. In the halls and the cafeteria I've been repeatedly called a 'gaywad.'"

"Uh, a, a gaywad? asked Roberts. "What's a gaywad?"

"I really don't know," Will said. "It's a discriminatory name for homosexuals."

This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Nov. 16, 2009.


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