By Kirsten Bokenkamp Communications Coordinator It’s that time of year again – The Austin Chronicle’s Best of Austin ballots are ready for submission – and we are looking for your vote for “Best Activist Organization”! As you ponder over what lucky organization will get your vote, you might be asking “why you, ACLU of Texas”? We’ll tell you why: For starters, we are the only activist organization that advocates for all civil liberties issues - no picking and choosing for us. Beyond that, just listen to some of the great things we got done over the past year! By the time you are done reading, voting for yours truly will be the only logical choice.
- We fought to keep kids in schools and out of jail. Schools now have clear steps to follow to protect their students from bullying at school; parents now have the right to tell schools that the school cannot corporally punish their child; less kids will be ticketed as a result of their childish misbehavior; and before ticketing truant students, schools are now required to first implement preventative measures. Better yet, students under 12 or over 17 can no longer be given tickets for being truant.
- In support of student Nikki Peet, we successfully persuaded the Flour Bluff High School to allow a Gay-straight Alliance (GSA) Club to be formed on its campus. Denying a GSA club the ability to meet, when the school allows other non-curricular clubs to meet, violates the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act. Schools around Texas took note that we won’t stand for this discrimination!
- We advocated before the State Board of Education, and told them that scholarship, not politics must determine our children’s public school curriculum.
- We got Austin youth involved in activism! Our youth advocates made office visits at the Capitol, testified on behalf of their peers, and helped us with our “Know your Rights” manuals for students.
- It was an uphill battle, but we fought tooth and nail against the anti-immigrant legislation at the Capitol this session. And, we are glad to report that the ‘Sanctuary Cities” bill has finally died!