Kalaheo Gay Straight Alliance Wins ACLU Youth Award
July 07, 2003
Honolulu - The ACLU of Hawai'i announced today that two Kalaheo High School seniors who started the state's first Gay Straight Alliance in the public schools are the recipients of its first Youth Award to promote awareness of civil liberties. Shealea Tindall and Maile Shay-Mountain will share in a $1,000 cash award. Chief Justice Ronald Moon will make the presentation this Saturday in a ceremony at the State Supreme Court. Also recognized will be finalists Ian Tapu of Kahuku High School and Jennifer S. Jung of Moanalua High School.
"I am inspired by the courage and commitment of our co-winners. They overcame significant barriers to achieve something that will benefit others long after they graduate," said Patrick Taomae, chair of the ACLU's public education program which sponsored the award.
The ACLU's Youth Award was created this year to recognize the efforts of young individuals, who are not older than a senior in high school, who have demonstrated a strong commitment to civil liberties. The award, which will be given annually, was made possible by a generous grant from Dr. Les Wilbur, professor emeritus from University of Southern California. Candidates are nominated by teachers, counselors, or community groups.
The nominees were judged on the strength and depth of their contributions to civil liberties and the rights of young people and the obstacles they had to overcome in their work.
Tindall and Shay-Mountain worked for a year with school officials to qualify the Gay Straight Alliance. The school denied them "chartered" status which was granted to other student clubs and brings a faculty adviser, bank account and an ability to raise funds on campus. The school relented after Alliance members solicited ACLU's assistance.
Jung was instrumental in raising voter awareness and youth issues among her peers in all schools in her district. Tapu initiated projects at his school to raise awareness about the political process and current issues.
Molly Tafoya, who just graduated from La Pietra – Hawai'i School for Girls, chairs the ACLU selection committee. Other members are Jackie Young, former state legislator; Rev. Yoshiaki Fujitani, retired Buddhist Bishop of Honpa Hongwanji Mission; Josh Reppun, high school American history teacher; and Jiro Arase, an ACLU board member.
"We know that youth are doing good in the community. By publicizing their deeds, the Youth Award can strike a spark in others to actively protect the Bill of Rights," said executive director Vanessa Y. Chong
The awards ceremony is open to the public but a RSVP is required due to limited seating. For more information, contact the ACLU at 522-5900.
Youth Award Honorees
Youth Awards Ceremony Speech by Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon
Youth Awards Ceremony Speech by Ah Quon McElrath
Youth Awards Ceremony Speech by Greg Knudsen, Department of Education
Youth Award Program
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