Photo: 2010 Winner Micah Inoue accepts the Guardians of Liberty & Justice Youth Award from attorney William Harrison and national ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero. Blaisdell Center, 2/28/2010.
Established in 2003 and concluded in 2010, through the generous support of local educator Dr. Leslie Wilbur, the ACLU of Hawai‘i Foundation's Guardians of Liberty and Justice Youth Award recognized the work of Hawaii's young leaders in the vanguard of civil rights.
Compelled by conscience, past winners overcame intolerance, ignorance and administrative opposition to lead freedom and equality forward.
2010: Micah Inoue (Grand Prize). In honor of the ACLU of Hawaii's 45th anniversary, and our first-ever visit by national ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, the 2010 Youth Award was presented to winner Micah Inoue of Hawai‘i Island at the Grassroots Celebration held at the Neal S., Blaisdell Center on February 20, 2010. The award, honoring Micah's activism and leadership within the University of Hawaii system on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intergender and questioning individuals, was presented to Micah by Anthony Romero and local civil rights attorney William Harrison. A thundering standing ovation followed as the 300+ attendees representing many generations of civil libertarians were moved by Micah's humble, articulate and persistent approach to equality for everyone. Congratulations, Micah!
2007: Daniel Coakley (Grand Prize) Flora Oh (Second Prize). Grand prize of $1000 and a 2-year ACLU membership went to Daniel Coakley of Kapa‘au. While attending Kohala High School, Daniel attempted to confront his school's uniform policy through his teachers, counselors, administrators, student government and finally the Department of Education (DOE). Although a uniform waiver policy existed within the DOE administrative framework, it took 2 years of refusal to wear the uniform and persistent inquiry for Daniel to be told about it. Daniel's concerns were met by his school not with accommodation or information, but with punishment. He was repeatedly given detention, barred from his prom and denied extracurricular activities. As a result of Daniel's actions, students and teachers at Kohala High are now more aware of the waiver rule. Daniel's teacher said that his protest "had a huge impact (on the administration)" and caused a "ripple effect" of change. The ACLU believes that when a school chooses to enforce uniforms, it must provide a waiver option, with waiver information clearly communicated to students and parents and applied in a fair and consistent manner. Daniel's activism underscores the importance of better school-level awareness of and cooperation with the uniform waiver policy.
The second prize of $500 and a two year ACLU membership went to Flora Oh of Kalani High School, who was the organizing catalyst for a spontaneous demonstration at her school in response to a DOE decision to reassign the school's popular and respected principal. Flora began demonstrating upon hearing the news - without stopping to question if she would get punished or suspended for doing so. Her demonstration was quickly joined by students and even some teachers and staff, and was covered by local media. Flora and her supporters gathered over 500 signatures in hopes of convincing the DOE to change its mind. "The ACLU is inspired by Flora's use of peaceful protest and petition to make the students' voices heard. In a time where many students assume they have no constitutionally protected rights at school, Flora used her conscience and her constitutional freedoms to the fullest." said Esther Solomon, Chair of the 2007 Youth Award Committee.
2005: Lehua Farrar-Ivey and Maxine Anderson (Grand Prize), Myles Cockroft (Second Prize). Anderson and Farrar-Ivey were recognized for their instrumental role in initiating a GSA at the Christian-based private school. The pair has worked since 2002 to obtain formal recognition of this group. Because of these girls' leadership, the youth group received approval to become an official club on campus. The students expanded its membership to recognize every student's individuality and took on a new name, "PRIDE", to reflect its mission to promote appreciation and acceptance in diversity.
Second prize winner Myles Cockcroft was acknowledged for being an advocate who carries the Constitution and Bill of Rights with him and is considered a "go to" resource among his peers when students rights issues come up. He recently opposed a new student identification policy, to address on-campus security, because it unfairly infringed on the right to privacy. He has refused to wear the new ID and was threatened with suspension.
2004: Jana Pierce-van Loon (Grand Prize), Samantha O'Hanlon and Christen Brown (Second Prizes). Jana Pierce-van Loon of Baldwin High School on Maui was recognized for her commitment to civil liberties issues which can be best described as a one-girl performing arts show. Her works have dramatized religious issues, gender discrimination and other violations of civil liberties.
Samantha O'Hanlon was honored for starting the first Gay/Straight Alliance (G.S.A.) at Punahou. She was instrumental in organizing the Alliance with students and faculty.
Christen Brown was acknowledged for actions taken while attending New Trier High School in Illinois. To promote racial awareness and tolerance of minority students, she was instrumental in creating the school’s first Black History Month Club. This has led to plans to develop diversity training for faculty and students.]
2003: Maile Shay-Mountain and Shealea D. Tindall (Grand Prize), Jennifer S. Jung and Ian Tapu (Second Prizes). Shay-Mountain and Tindall worked for over a year to establish the first public high school Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). The purpose of the group is to provide a supportive environment for students. Both are also active in organizing various projects for the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu's extensive youth program. Both are also leaders in the Youth Project of FACE, a coalition of faith leaders who work on community issues. Most recently they worked to publicize the state of public school bathrooms.
Jennifer Jung worked on voter registration and get-out-the vote drives for students and parents in her district. She also took part in the Hawai'i State Student Council and lobbied for student-supported bills in the legislature and worked as a legislative aide. Her History Day research project on Miranda rights had a major impact on her awareness about civil liberties.
Ian Tapu started projects at his school to raise awareness about the political process. He has served as Class President and Captain of the Debate Team. He is the founder of the Law and Politics Society whose activities include voter registration drives and public education projects on current issues.