- There is a change.org petition to rename Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport after JoJo Siwa.
- The petition, endorsed by Siwa herself, has amassed over 55,000 signatures.
- Reagan has been criticized for his record on HIV/AIDS, and Siwa has emerged as an LGBTQ icon.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
An online petition to rename Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, DC, after teenage pop star JoJo Siwa has earned over 55,000 signatures – and even an endorsement from Siwa herself.
The Change.org petition, succinctly titled “Rename Ronald Reagan Airport to Jojo Siwa Washington National Airport,” was created by Georgetown University student Dylan Long, DCist reported in April. Currently addressed to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority John E. Potter, the text of the petition itself is brief: “why on earth is there an airport named after this war criminal.” Reagan, the 40th president of the United States and a Republican, has been criticized for his administration’s treatment of the LGBTQ community.
Siwa is a teenage pop star who got her start on the reality television program “Dance Moms” before launching her own successful personal brand. She recently came out as a member of the LGBTQ community and went public about her relationship with her girlfriend.
-dyl (@deeeeeelann) April 20, 2021
The petition resurfaced once again after Siwa herself spoke to TMZ about it in an article published May 13. It hit 40,000 signatures on Friday before surpassing 50,000 on Sunday.
In the interview with TMZ, Siwa said that she was “obviously on board with it,” calling the idea “the sickest thing ever.” She said that her mother had encouraged her to sign it.
A representative for Siwa declined to comment for this article.
The petition is linked to President Reagan’s record with the LGBTQ community
Long, the creator of the petition, told Georgetown student newspaper The Hoya that he chose to rally behind JoJo Siwa’s name given her recent coming out.
“My reasoning for picking JoJo Siwa was related to the fact that Reagan in his presidency did a lot of really terrible things with regard to the LGBTQ communities, specifically with the HIV and AIDS pandemic,” Long told The Hoya. “I decided to pick JoJo Siwa because she’s been this recent rise as a new LGBT figure.”
The Reagan administration has been criticized for its handling of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Many Americans falsely believed the disease only affected gay men at the time, leading to a slow government response and inaction as the disease claimed the lives of thousands of Americans, Insider reported. Reagan administration officials were also recorded laughing about the epidemic, Vice reported.
Reagan himself did not address the country about the AIDS epidemic until 1985, when over 12,000 people had died of the disease, according to NBC. Other recently released recordings have shown Reagan using racist language to refer to African United Nations delegates, as Insider reported.
DCist reported that this isn’t the first time people have called to remove Reagan’s name from the airport, which is also referred to as “National” or “DCA.” The airport’s name was changed from Washington National to the former president’s namesake in 1998, when the then-Senate majority leader, Republican Trent Lott, pushed the bill through Congress, according to The Washington Post. The Post found via a 2015 online survey that, among its readers, Republicans were more likely to refer to the airport with Reagan’s name than Democrats.
Siwa has been heralded as an LGBTQ icon in the months since she publicly came out on social media in January. LGBTQ mental health and media experts told Insider that Siwa’s coming out stood to make a major difference in the lives of LGBTQ children and their parents by potentially helping families be more accepting towards queer children. Her coming out also signals a shift in the entertainment industry’s acceptance of LGBTQ celebrities, particularly given Siwa’s young audience.
Signatory comments on Long’s petition were overwhelmingly positive.
“Why should the airport be named for some crusty homophobe when jojo siwa is RIGHT THERE,” one signer wrote. “nothing but respect for MY president!”