March 20 ACLU-TN Students’ Rights Conference to Cover Youth Activism, Freedom of the Press, LGBT Equality and More

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
March 18, 2013 2:02 pm

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NASHVILLE — The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee will hold its annual Students’ Rights Conference, “Stand Up/Speak Up,” on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 in Nashville. This free conference focuses on young people’s civil liberties and civil rights both in school and in the community, and is open to all public and private high school students.

“ACLU-TN’s students’ rights conference is designed to empower and educate young people on how to apply the guarantees of the Bill of Rights to their daily lives,” said Claire Gardner, ACLU-TN Community Engagement Associate and conference coordinator. “Students will be initiating a dialogue with their peers about protecting and advocating not only for their own civil liberties, but for the civil liberties of all Tennesseans.”

The conference’s interactive sessions will evaluate youth rights both in and out of school, demonstrate how to organize and initiate change, and encourage 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.

“While we’re taught our basic rights in schools, there can be gaps and misconceptions in our knowledge,” said Emmanuelle Loyer, a senior at Hillsboro High School and member of ACLU-TN’s youth advisory council, Teens Advocating for Civil Liberties. “This conference will not only illuminate a range of civil liberties for participants, but will show students that they are not alone and empower them to make changes in their own communities and lives.”

Speakers 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; Vanderbilt Divinity School graduate student Darria Hudson; Metro Human Relations Commission Program Coordinator Mark Eatherly; ACLU-TN Executive Director Hedy Weinberg and youth representatives of Just Us, Jóvenes Unidos por un Mejor Presente, Muslim Youth Navigating Tennessee, the PG-13 Players, and Teens Advocating for Civil Liberties. Additionally, Knox County Schools 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.

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.

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 funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and 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, private schools, and home schools as well.

More information can be found at

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