Katy Butler is is using her voice to inspire others and end bullying. The Michigan teen started a petition on Change.org to change the documentary entitled Bully to a PG-13 rating instead of an R one. Butler, a victim to bullying herself, felt that middle school and high school kids would miss out on the documentary’s important message if the R rating remained in place. Bully is now rated PG-13 thanks to Katy’s courageous efforts. Check out our exclusive Q&A with Katy to learn more about her anti-bullying efforts!
BOP&TB: What inspired you to get involved?
Katy Butler: When I was in middle school, I was actually bullied for being openly gay. And I was missing so much school, I didnâ€™t want to go to school. I hated it. I hated everything at that point. Then, last February, I saw the clips and the trailers for the film Bully on YouTube and I thought it was such an inspirational movie. I saw Alex and Kelsey, I really connected with what they were going through. Them sharing their stories really inspired me. And I knew that the film could potentially change the climate of bullying in the United States. I saw that the film was rated R, which took the film away from the middle school and high school students who needed to see it. Who needed to receive the message that Lee Hurst, the director, was trying to get out there. So, I thought that was absolutely ridiculous why would you rate an inspirational and incredible film R? So I went on Change.org and started a petition asking the Motion Picture Association of America to change the rating from R to PG-13 so kids across the country could actually see this movie.
BOP&TB: How does it feel to take a social media campaign to somewhere that it could actually become a law?
Katy Butler: Itâ€™s incredible. I think itâ€™s so fantastic. We definitely need a national anti-bullying law. And different states have different laws and they have different policies and theyâ€™re not all on the same page. So, getting this law would be absolutely incredible. I think, one, itâ€™s a step to changing the climate of bullying in the United States because we need that law and we also need the film and we need people talking about the film and the social media talking about it. And we need kids hearing about it and kids participating. So, everything we can get, Iâ€™m just so grateful to work from two different aspects of it.
BOP&TB: Have you had the chance to talk to anyone that has been able to see Bully because of the rating change?
Katy Butler: Absolutely. My mom actually is a pediatrician in the emergency room and she saw a patient who actually saw this and was telling her about it. He actually went with his sports team, he was bullied and he was kind of, he was really smart and the kids were a little bit jealous. He was really smart and really good at sports. So he went with his sports team and now these kids are his best friends. They went to the film and they had a fantastic dialogue about it afterwards and I think theyâ€™re 12 and 13 years old and they were just so impacted by the film. They all went together and they shared that experience and that was really inspiring to hear.
BOP&TB: What has this experience taught you about how one person can really make a change? Any advice for teens to start a movement like this?
Katy Butler: I think the biggest thing that Iâ€™ve learned is being yourself can make such a difference. Iâ€™m comfortable with who I am now, and I love who I am. And I have shared my story with the world essentially and that made such a difference. So just being myself and being who I am made such a difference in my own life. And I think if other kids are true to themselves, and true to who they really are can make that difference as well. Cause I mean, bullies really arenâ€™t bullies at heart, theyâ€™re just kids who are going through something or need a little extra push, or need a little extra love. So, I donâ€™t think theyâ€™re really bad people, so what they do really, become true to themselves, and become true to who they actually are I think we can get a lot farther in this anti-bullying fight than where we think weâ€™ll end up.