Bringing together high school students from across the commonwealth, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice are hosting the 2011 Youth Rights Conference in Louisville this weekend.
The summit begins Saturday and is aimed at helping students learn more about civil liberties issues. Discussion topics are chosen by the 175 youth participants, and will cover bullying, comprehensive sex education and access to nutritious foods.
ACLU program associate Kate Miller says young people want to engage with decision-makers on important subjects.
“We really want the community to know that these are the issues that are important to students right now and hopefully to consider these issues,” she says. “Some of the students were active on these issues during the 2011 General Assembly. So it’s something that we really need to take seriously.
The conference will run from 9:30 am to 3 pm and will be held at the University of Louisville with workshops led by Planned Parenthood of Kentucky, the Center for Women and Families and the Food Literacy Project at Oxmoor Farm.
Keynote speakers include Gaby Pacheco, an undocumented immigrant and activist traveling the country to rally support for the DREAM Act and Wendy Walsh, an anti-bullying advocate whose 13-year-old son committed suicide after years of bullying and harassment based on his sexual-orientation.
“Policy-makers and people generally don’t know what students are really talking about now. I think legislators and Kentuckians want to hear what students have to say, they just maybe don’t have the access,” says Miller.