Katy Butler says she found out what it's like to be bullied after she came out as a lesbian while she was in middle school.
That knowledge is what has driven this 17-year-old from Michigan to take a stand against the Motion Picture Association of America when it slapped an R rating on the documentary Bully.
She launched an online petition on Change.org demanding that the rating be changed to PG-13 which would make it easier for the film's intended audience – middle and high school students – to get into the movie. An R rating means they must be accompanied by an adult if they are age 17 and under.
'I can’t believe the MPAA is blocking millions of teenagers from seeing a movie that could change — and, in some cases, save — their lives,' Butler states on the petition. 'According to the film’s website, over 13 million kids will be bullied this year alone. Think of how many of these kids could benefit from seeing this film, especially if it is shown in schools?'
The petition, personally delivered by Butler to the MPAA offices in Los Angeles, has been signed by more than 300,000 people. Included among them are Ellen DeGeneres, Justin Bieber, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and several members of the US Congress.
So far, the MPAA has not budged on the rating for the documentary which will hit theaters on March 30.
But Butler's campaign has brought much attention to the situation and for her efforts, she is being honored by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on March 24.
The award will be presented to Butler by Oscar-winning producer Harvey Weinstein whose company has been unsuccessful in its appeals to get the MPAA to change the rating.
'I am proud and honored to present this Award to Katy,' Weinstein said. 'Her commitment to this campaign and passion for taking action against bullying is incredibly impressive.'