A 10-year-old boy has been named grand marshal for a gay-pride parade this weekend – prompting a family-advocacy group to call the decision “child abuse” and urge the local mayor to withdraw city support for the event.

The American Family Association spoke out against Will Phillips’ scheduled participation Saturday in the Northwest Arkansas Pride parade in Fayetteville, Ark.

“It’s shameful that adults would abuse a brainwashed child in this way,” AFA President Tim Wildmon wrote in a press release. “He’s obviously just parroting the nonsense he’s been told by manipulative adults. For gay activists to trot out this child and make him the poster child for promoting unnatural sexual expression is a form of child abuse.”

2008 Northwest Arkansas Pride parade in Fayetteville, Ark. (Photo: NWA Pride)

2008 Northwest Arkansas Pride
parade in Fayetteville, Ark. (Photo: NWA Pride)

The AFA called on Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan to cancel his plans to issue a proclamation celebrating “homosexual behavior and gay pride.”

However, despite hundreds of e-mails urging him to cancel, Jordan still plans to extend the city’s support and deliver the proclamation, the Fayetteville Flyer reported.

Fayetteville Communication Director Lindsley Smith told the paper the activities will go on as scheduled.

“The mayor is still excited,” Smith said. “Everything’s still on.”

Joney Harper, director of operations for Northwest Arkansas Pride and a person with a masculine voice and feminine-looking breasts, told KFSM-TV, “The fact that he is 10 years old and he’s so outspoken is a big positive not only for our community but the state as well as the country to show that our children in this country are actually smarter than we give them credit for.”

A reporter asked Harper if he’s worried about backlash from the community for choosing the boy to be grand marshal.

He responded, “We’re not San Francisco or New York or something like that. We’re pretty much a family affair, so we figure it’s pretty safe for him to be there.”

Phillips’ father and mother said they’re honored, proud and not worried about criticism. His father said in the last six months Phillips has traveled across the country and spoken to thousands of people.

“I’m a person. I may be 10, but I’m a person,” said Phillips, who declared himself an ambassador for equal rights.

The boy made headlines in 2009 when the fifth-grader publicly refused to pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag until gays and lesbians have “equal” rights and are allowed to marry.

“I was analyzing the meanings of [the Pledge of Allegiance] because I want to be a lawyer,” he told CNN during a television interview. “I looked at the end, and it said ‘liberty and justice for all,’ and there really isn’t liberty and justice for all. Gays and lesbians can’t marry. There’s still a lot of racism and sexism in the world.”

2008 Northwest Arkansas Pride
parade in Fayetteville, Ark. (Photo: NWA Pride)

Will Phillips at GLAAD awards (Photo: GLAAD)

Phillips said, when his substitute teacher asked him to stand for the pledge, he refused: “I eventually – very solemnly with a little bit of malice in my voice – said, ‘Ma’am, with all due respect, you can go jump off a bridge.'”

His father sat beside his son, smiling during the CNN interview.

“[T]his wasn’t a typical act of juvenile delinquency,” the father said. “This was a very atypical act of juvenile delinquency.”

While Phillips said he wrote a letter of apology to the teacher, he said he’s grown up with “a lot of people and (is) good friends with a lot of people that are gay.”

Asked what it will take for him to return to saying the Pledge of Allegiance, the boy replied, “For there to truly be liberty and justice for all. That entails everyone being able to marry.”

In March this year, Phillips accepted a media award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, for outstanding TV journalism segment, after his “Why Will won’t pledge alliance” appearance on CNN.

He took the stage at the Times Square Marriott accompanied by his parents and included a “message for President Obama.”

“My voice is small, but has gone far, and with hope has done much good,” he said. “I think the bully pulpit of your office could go farther and with help do much more.”

The following is a video of his acceptance speech posted on YouTube:

(Editor’s note: Concerned individuals may contact Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan by calling (479) 575-8330 or by e-mail and/or contact members of the Fayetteville City Council.)

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