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Student Activism: NYSUT Hosts Fifth Annual Capital Region Institute For Human Rights Teen Summer Symposium - 93 Teen Students Take Part, Learn About A Variety Of Issues

Published Wednesday, July 10, 2019
by Liza Frenette/NYSUT Communications
Student Activism: NYSUT Hosts Fifth Annual Capital Region Institute For Human Rights Teen Summer Symposium - 93 Teen Students Take Part, Learn About A Variety Of Issues

(ALBANY, NEW YORK) - Student activism is soaring across the country and that momentum showed up this week at the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Union - 93 students strong to participate in the fifth annual Capital Region Institute for Human Rights Teen Summer Symposium.

With attendance spiking from 70 students last year, the high school students were in Albany for three days of learning about issues such as how to create and build on a movement, receiving historical education about Women’s Rights and LGBTQ concerns, taking on climate change, learning how to hold power and how it can be lost; and how to make change from a corner of a classroom to across the globe in Uganda.

Saskia Dolan, a North Colonie Teachers Association Member, provided students with an overview of the history of Women’s Reproductive Rights, a focus of national news right now.

She showed how this is a Social Justice issue that has been used as a political tool to suppress women, and even for Anti-Immigration.

Dolan explained how the American Medical Association - whose practitioners profited by women having children - once flagrantly asked in a statement: “Shall these regions be filled by our own children or by those of aliens?”

The 5th and 14th Amendments, she pointed out, guarantee liberty and privacy - which includes bodily integrity, but opponents don’t see it that way.

“It’s ‘about more than’ reproductive rights.  It’s ‘about’ economics.  It’s ‘about’ politics,” Dolan said.

NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango, who oversees NYSUT’s Research Department and the Women’s Committee for the Statewide Labor Organization, told the students NYSUT and its Teachers support student movements for change.

“Many Teachers ‘are activists,’” she said. “We ‘use our collective’ voices.”

She told students that the lessons they are being taught in high school will inform them in their quests to make a difference in taking on such issues as climate change or inequality.

“We’re ‘behind’ this work,” DiBrango said. “I ‘hope you never lose this activism.’  I’m ‘wishing you a space and place for you to use your voice.’”

Activist James Shultis educated students about how to choose one problem facing a community and then examine its underlying historical, social and economic roots.

Hudson Falls Teachers Association Member Alison Lattimore, a School Librarian and volunteer with the Institute, said her focus on activism for LGBTQ rights began in the ‘80s.

Lattimore’s college roommate was marginalized for being gay.

People also gave Lattimore strong and strange reactions to having a gay roommate.

Ishita Khambete, a student at Shaker High School, said the summer symposium is a good way to learn and to connect with peers from the region.

She hopes to pass on what she is learning about human rights to her peers in Key Club, which focuses on community service.

To Continue Reading This Labor News Story, Go To: www.nysut.org/news/2019/july/teen-human-rights-institute-nurtures-student-activism

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