Commission on Human Rights
Kentucky Schools forming Youth Human Rights Councils to promote equality and stop problems like bullying
Louisville, KY - Students at Louisville, Kentucky’s Central High School recently said they and classmates are concerned about bullying, racial separation during lunch hour, and perceived better treatment of advanced placement students over regular students.
To help deal with these and other issues, Central, Seneca High School in Louisville and Bardstown High School are each forming a Youth Council on Human Rights. The councils are designed to help students promote equality and unity among peers and faculty.
The Kentucky Human Rights Commission recently created the Youth Councils on Human Rights program and is helping the three schools establish their councils. The commission wants to help more Kentucky middle and high schools develop councils and invites school officials and students to contact the commission for information or to get started.
“Our Youth Council on Human Rights Program is designed to inspire students and school administrators lead in the mission to safeguard equal opportunity and treatment and to promote mutual understanding and harmony among the entire student body,” said John J. Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.
The youth councils provide a context in which students will be able to address and seek solutions civil and human rights concerns that are often encountered by today’s youth, Johnson said.
“The councils’ unique tools are advocacy, awareness, empowerment, and education,” said Glenda F. Green, commission official and facilitator of the youth council program.
Central High School was the first to join the initiative. Commission officials met with Central Law and Government classes earlier this year to begin the project. Joe Gutmann, Central High School Law and Government teacher spearheads the initiative for Central at the direction of Principal Dr. Daniel Withers.
"It is extremely important that our youth have a vehicle and process for their voices and concerns to be addressed, and the Youth Council on Human Rights will provide such an avenue,” said Gutmann. “The Central High School Law & Government Magnet is proud to partner with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights and other high schools to make this become a reality,” he said.
The Kentucky Commission on Human rights will give a presentation at Bardstown High School on October 26. Students will have the chance to learn about serving on their council, offer ideas on how to promote equality in their school or to talk about civil or human rights issues that concern them.
Chris Pickett, Bardstown High School principal said: “I am very excited to take part in this worthy venture with the support of the state human rights commission. Bringing our students and staff information regarding rights as individuals is of the utmost importance. Being able to listen, respect, and be open to others’ views is what we want to be about at Bardstown High School. Our diverse population is strength within our school and community. With a Youth Council on Human Rights, we aim to become even stronger in our mission to understand one another.”
“We consider it a golden opportunity to work with the Youth Counsel for Human Rights at Bardstown High School,” said Rose Dodson of Bardstown Independent Schools Support Services. “We can accomplish more to make a difference by working together,” she said.
Also on October 26, the state human rights commission will hold a question and answer session for students about the council program at Seneca High School.
Seneca High School Principal Michelle Dillard and Seneca English and Sociology teacher Jill Bickel issued this statement about their new human rights youth council:
"We are proud and excited to be one of the first schools in Jefferson County to begin a Youth Council on Human Rights. We have recently added several Human Rights courses to our curriculum as part of our International Studies program. So far, teaching this course has been more than fulfilling as students are genuinely engaged in classroom discussion and have also become active in some local human rights organizations. The council is a logical next step for us to fulfill part of our mission, which is to foster students' ability to succeed and do something meaningful after high school. Teaching and learning about social injustice and human rights provides opportunities for Seneca to contribute back to the community and become more socially aware of issues that are of pressing importance in everyday people's lives.”
For more information, contact Glenda F. Green at the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights at 1.800.292.5566.
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is the state government agency that enforces the laws that make discrimination illegal. Call the number above for help with discrimination.