HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) – A 12-year-old Hixson girl has been awarded for addressing Hamilton County Commissioners on the on-going dispute over prayer.

A release from the Freedom From Religion Foundation says Maia Disbrow, a student at the Center for Creative Arts, received $1,000 for her speech July 18, asking commissioners to drop prayer before meetings.

The release says Maia decided to get involved after she and her father, who also spoke against prayer, saw the board giving a special award to a preacher.

"I realized that there were some things I'd like to say to them," Maia says. "It took me a while to decide because even though I go to a middle school for the arts that is supposed to accept everyone, I was worried."

"During elementary school, I was bullied about my beliefs and whenever the subject of my religion, or lack thereof, came up, my social status dropped for a few days," Maia adds. "When I realized that the county commissioners were actually behaving like a bunch of fifth-grade bullies, I sat down and started writing my address to them." 

The issue of prayer is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed against the commission by Tommy Coleman and Brandon Jones.