Free Speech, LGBT Equality, Police Interaction Among Topics at ACLU-TN Students’ Rights Conference
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NASHVILLE — The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee’s annual Students’ Rights Conference, “Stand Up/Speak Up,” will take place on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 in Nashville. This free conference, open to all public and private high school students, will focus on young people’s civil liberties and civil rights, both in school and in the community.
“ACLU-TN’s students’ rights conference is designed to educate young people about the guarantees of the Bill of Rights and to initiate dialogue about how these rights are applied in their daily lives,” said Claire Gardner, ACLU-TN Community Engagement Associate and conference coordinator. “Conference participants will be empowered to protect and advocate not only for their own civil liberties, but for those of all Tennesseans.”
The conference’s interactive sessions will outline youth rights both in and out of school, discuss how to organize and initiate change, and provide an opportunity for students to network and engage with their peers about the responsibilities of freedom. Specific session topics include free speech, freedom of the press, interactions with law enforcement, religious freedom, tools for creating change, privacy, LGBT equality and more. During concurrent sessions, students will have the opportunity to select the workshops that most interest them.
“As a current high school student, I think it’s really important to understand my civil liberties and civil rights—both in school and beyond—so that I can take an active role in standing up for the changes I want to see in Tennessee. I feel that most students don’t fully understand their rights and I hope to increase awareness of student rights,” said Sruthi Madhu, a current high school sophomore and member of ACLU-TN’s youth advisory council, Teens Advocating for Civil Liberties. “I also look forward to meeting other teens at the conference who want to contribute to and change our community for the better.”
Confirmed speakers to date include First Amendment Center Scholar David L. Hudson Jr.; Vanderbilt Law Professor Terry Maroney; Metro Nashville Public Schools School Resource Officer D’Mitri Cannon; Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network of Middle Tennessee Co-Chair Brad Palmertree; American Center for Outreach Board Member Kasar Abdulla, and ACLU-TN Executive Director Hedy Weinberg. Additionally, Lenoir City English teacher James Yoakley, who made national news for helping his students fight censorship in their school newspaper and yearbook, will speak about freedom of the press.
The conference will take place at the Martin Professional Development Center, 2400 Fairfax Avenue, Nashville. The conference is for high school students only. Registration is from 9:30-10:00 a.m. on the day of the conference. The program will begin at 10:00 a.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m. Lunch and snacks will be provided free of charge.
While there is no cost to attend, students must pre-register for the conference online here or by calling the ACLU-TN office at (615) 320-7142.
The conference is being offered in collaboration with Metro Nashville Public Schools Community Achieves Program, which coordinates community intersession opportunities for students over school breaks. The conference is open to students from other school districts and private schools as well.
ACLU-TN is the only statewide organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the constitutional guarantees of the Bill of Rights. An affiliate of the national ACLU, ACLU-TN is a private, non-profit, non-partisan membership organization.
More information can be found at www.aclu-tn.org.
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