Senior at the Central York High School in York, PA
What do you do as a volunteer for the ACLU of Pennsylvania?
I serve as the Secretary for the South Central Chapter of ACLU of PA. Most of my volunteer time goes to tabling local events, composing the meeting minutes, doing chapter paperwork, and attending the chapter’s board meetings once a month.
As of July, I began a high school internship as the Harrisburg office. I am working on chapter business, assisting Jamie Pauls, Chapter Relations Manager, with paperwork and gathering supplies for the other chapters, and shadowing different aspects of the work of Andy Hoover, Legislative Director.
How long have you volunteered with the ACLU of Pennsylvania?
I have volunteered with the organization since 2012, attending tabling events and chapter meetings with my mother, Cyndi Sneath, Treasurer, ACLU of PA. I joined the chapter board as Secretary in September 2013.
How did you first get involved with the ACLU of Pennsylvania?
I first heard about the ACLU of Pennsylvania at a young age during Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District in 2006 (my mother was a plaintiff in the lawsuit). However, I took a true interest at an older age when I read about the ACLU in my 9th Grade Civics textbook and the work organization has done to protect the rights of citizens guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Why is volunteering with the ACLU of Pennsylvania important to you?
The ACLU actively seeks to protect every citizen’s constitutional rights; if it were not for organizations like the ACLU that stand up for citizens, I worry that we would not have the necessary protection to prevent the violation of our rights. I want to do anything I can to support the ACLU as they protect the very freedoms I enjoy.
What civil liberties issue(s) are you most passionate about and why?
I am also very interested in the protection of LGBTQ Rights. I believe that the primary source of opposition to same-sex marriage and the LGBTQ community comes from a religious interpretation. I support the First Amendment right to partake in religious beliefs. But, those rights shall not extend to violate the rights of another individual. Therefore, I feel using religious beliefs to ban same-sex marriage and prevent LGBTQ protection is a violation of the rights of LGBTQ individuals guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
I am also interested in the teaching of creationism, intelligent design, and other forms of religion in public schools. As a biology student, I am fascinated by the level of misunderstanding by intelligent design proponents on the theory of evolution by Natural Selection, and scientific theories in general. It is interesting that there is a notion that ID deserves equal time in a biology classroom, considering that ID has virtually no scientific consensus among biologists relative to that of Darwin’s Natural Selection. I respect an individual’s right to utilize their religious freedoms and endorse ID; but, I do not support that endorsement taking place in a place of government, including the public school science classroom.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering for the ACLU of Pennsylvania?
Outside of the ACLU, most of my activities are academic. I am often studying for upcoming tests and working on projects for my Advanced Placement classes. I am the president of my Model United Nations Club, run Track and Field and Cross Country, play trombone in Marching Band and Jazz Band, and do other volunteer work for National Honor Society. I also participate in Science Olympiad and review articles for Scientific Journal Review Club throughout the school week.
When I am not working on academics, I work at Target as a cashier. I also spend time with my family, read political articles, and run when I find a little bit of down time!
If you are interested in volunteering with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, please visit: aclupa.org/volunteer