Katy Butler, the 17-year-old openly lesbian Michigan high school student whose campaign to get the Motion Picture Association of America to change the 'R' rating of the film Bully to 'PG-13,' has collected almost 300,000 signatures for her petition. She’s been amazed by the response, though finds the attention bittersweet. She also praised Ellen DeGeneres, whose show she appeared on, as a hero to her and to so many other LGBT teens who’ve been bullied.
“I have been extremely surprised,” she said on my radio program on SiriusXM OutQ of the response.”It’s wonderful that there’s all this support, but it’s also kind of sad that I’m getting this much attention for something that so many other people could be doing, too. Standing up to bullying is something a lot of people could do.”
Twenty members of Congress have signed the petition, while celebrities like Justin Bieber have tweeted about it. Butler also appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show to talk about the film, which is directed by Lee Hirsch and follows five students over the course of a school year and exposes the brutality of bullying, and includes language and violence which garnered the ‘R’ rating.
“Ellen DeGeneres personally is one of my heroes,” she said. “It was absolutely amazing [to go on the show]. I mean, I definitely would not have had the courage to to this. I mean, come out to the world -- that’s crazy! I would never have been able to do that without Ellen.”
“If it ends up coming out on March 30 with an 'R' rating I want to make sure that every school in the United States knows how important it is to see this movie," Taylor said, discussing how she met with an MPAA official in Los Angeles though there is still no word from the organization on any rating change. “Kids can’t go see it without a parent or guardian in the movies. Ideally it would be PG-13 but if worse comes to worst and it’s not, then I definitely am going to push for this to be shown in schools everywhere.
Taylor was inspired to action after seeing the film and connecting with it.
“When I was in middle school I came out as a lesbian and not a lot of people liked that,” she said. “They called me names and pushed me into walls and I ended up getting my hand slammed in a locker and breaking my fingers. I think the emotional part of it was worse than having my fingers broken. That healed, but for me and thousands of other kids, that’s with you forever."
She believes the film will go a long way toward ending bullying. “I think it will make kids want to step in more,” she said.
Listen to the full interview here:
Take a look at some recent bullying cases below: