2008 Youth Scholar - Tonei Glavinic, Steller Secondary School, Anchorage, AK
"Tonei embodies the best in youth activism: determination, compassion, experience, and leadership abilities. His experience with organizations at the local and national levels has given him a firm foundation from which to grow as an activist."
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Tonei Glavinic is an accomplished civil liberties activist in Anchorage, AK. He is the youth representative on the board of Identity, Inc., a non-profit that operates the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Anchorage. Tonei is also the Board President of the United Youth Courts of Alaska (UYCA), a program that diverts misdemeanor youth offenders to a peer-based community service program instead of the traditional juvenile justice system. He is a producer with the Alaska Teen Media Institute, and leverages this position to promote LGBT rights on weekly and monthly radio shows he produces for local college and public radio stations. Tonei is also president of his high school GSA and co-chair of the National Transgender Education Project Youth Review Board. His most passionate interest is working with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) where he currently serves on their National Advisory Council.
Tonei's Scholarship Essay
The mission statements of the organizations I work with hold a key to understanding who I am. Anchorage Youth Court promises "justice for youth by youth." The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) "envisions a world in which all students are respected." My school is dedicated to "the creation of independent, courageous people." Justice, respect and independence are three of the most important tenets in my life, and I know they will continue to be driving forces as I move into the future.
Community service and creating change have been important parts of my life for as long as I can remember. As early as second grade, I was volunteering in my school library and helping the school's technology support team run the school computers. I continued working in libraries through eight grade, when I became a member of the Anchorage Youth Court. Youth court programs provide young people the constitutional right to a jury of their peers, and educate youth about the intricacies of the American judicial system. They also focus on rehabilitation of young offenders, giving them a second chance rather than pulling them into the progressively deeper hole of traditional juvenile justice. My interest and dedication to youth courts led me to become president of the United Youth Courts of Alaska in May 2007, and I am honored to represent the state's 13 active youth courts.
I became active in my school's Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) shortly after becoming involved with Anchorage Youth Court in 2003. I soon became president and facilitator of my GSA, and also became involved with the Anchorage GSA Coalition. Through my work with the citywide coalition, I learned of GLSEN's Jump-Start National Leadership Team. I applied for this program in April 2006, and attended my first GLSEN Summer Start conference three months later. Attending that summit and meeting 49 other motivated activists led me to realize that I wanted to spend the rest of my life working for equal civil and human rights for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Since then, I have been very active in supporting rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. I have supported to local GSA clubs in addition to my own, traveled to Washington, DC to lobby for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and given advice as a GLSEN student coordinator to students from Washington to Florida. Over the past two years, my dedication and interest in LGBT issues has grown, and I am more certain than ever that I want to continue working on these issues of equality and civil rights long after I graduate from college.