Utah High School Seniors Honored For Their Social Justice and Equality Activism

Affiliate: ACLU of Utah
April 13, 2012 12:00 am

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ACLU of Utah 2012 Youth Activist Scholarship Recipients Announced

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah has selected three high school seniors in Utah to receive the organization’s 2012 Youth Activist Scholarship. The recipients will each receive a $1,000 scholarship, in recognition of their commitment to civil liberties through activism. The winners will be honored at the ACLU of Utah’s 2012 Bill of Rights Celebration on May 2, 2012.

Since 2007, the ACLU of Utah has recognized high school seniors across Utah for their work protecting and expanding civil liberties in their schools and communities. The students are selected based not only on their activism, but also their academic excellence, leadership and tenacity in overcoming personal hardship.

The winners of the 2012 Youth Activist Scholarships include: a transgender student of color who has transformed his personal challenges into inspiration for others; a young Latino immigrant fighting for racial justice and immigrant rights; and a self-proclaimed music activist seeking equal treatment and protection for LGBTQ youth.

Gabriel Glissmeyer is a student at Hillcrest High School in Midvale. As a student of color and a member of the LGBTQ community, Gabe has faced and overcome many obstacles in his life. But rather than letting these challenges discourage him, Gabe uses his experiences to empower himself, as well as to help others who face similar challenges. For example, Gabe works to educate members of the LGBTQ community about the ill effects of tobacco; he turned the spotlight on “Project SCUM,” a tobacco campaign that sought to target members of the LGBTQ community in the 1990s. Gabe also initiated the formation of “Advocates for Equality,” an all-inclusive club at his high school that provides a safe place for LGBTQ youth to share their experiences and work to promote equal treatment within Hillcrest’s halls. With support from the ACLU of Utah, Gabe plans to continue his civil liberties advocacy after high school. “In college I plan to tirelessly continue to fight for what’s right,” he says, “without backing down.”

Patricio Panuncio is a student at the Academy for Math, Engineering and Science in Salt Lake City. Not long after moving with his family to Utah from Argentina in 2001, Patricio began to feel the effects of discrimination toward the Latino community. Rather than sitting back and enduring the discrimination silently, Patricio decided to take action in pursuit of equal treatment and protection for all people. He helped to organize an action group titled “Still We Rise”, which demonstrated against HJR 24, a proposal put forth during the 2010 Legislative Session to ban Equal Opportunity programs in state employment and higher education. When “Still We Rise” triumphed and the proposal, Patricio realized, “Change was at the tips of my fingers.” Since then, he has shared his story on a radio show, testified before the state legislature, and participated in rallies to advocate for equality for Latinos and immigrants in Utah. Patricio plans to get an undergraduate degree in Political Science, and pursue a career in Civil Rights Law.

Lincoln Parkin is a student at Weber High School in Ogden. As president of his school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club, Lincoln works to promote fair treatment for all students at Weber High, no matter their sexual orientation. Lincoln is also an active member of the Ogden OUTreach Center, a program that focuses on creating a safe and welcoming community for LGBTQ youth and their allies. After learning about the “Pink Dot” campaign through the OUTreach Center, Lincoln worked to encourage Utahns to speak up for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends and family members as part of the “Pink Dot” effort. A self-proclaimed “music activist,” Lincoln uses his passion for singing to work toward the goal of equality for LGBTQ people. Lincoln plans to continue his dedication to music and activism in college.

We received many excellent applications for this scholarship program; each applicant inspired us with their work to protect and expand civil liberties. It was a challenge to select only three winners! But we are proud to provide this scholarship to high school activists who are working to make a difference, not only in their own lives, but in the lives of their families, friends, peers and neighbors. The scholarship winners will receive their awards at the ACLU of Utah’s annual Bill of Rights Celebration on May 2.

The Bill of Rights Celebration will feature various guests of honor, as well as keynote speaker Spencer Overton, Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression, of George Washington University Law School. This event is expected to attract more than 500 guests, who will come together to support the ACLU of Utah, and learn more about its role in promoting participatory democracy, transparent and accountable government, voting rights and a host of other important civic issues. To purchase your tickets or learn more about the Bill of Rights Celebration on May 2nd, please visit www.acluutah.org/bor2012.

For more information about the ACLU of Utah Scholarship Program and past winners, please visit http://www.acluutah.org/2012YAS.html

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