The ACLU of Washington Board of Directors has selected Colin Moyer, a thoughtful and determined student who stood up against teaching creationism in a public school science class, as recipient of the 2009 Youth Activist Award.
The award is being presented at the ACLU of Washington’s Bill of Rights Celebration Dinner on Nov. 14 at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront. Featured speaker, defense attorney Jeff Robinson, will talk about his extraordinary experiences representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
As a sophomore at Curtis High School in University Place in Pierce County, Moyer was shocked when his popular biology teacher began teaching a view of evolution that focused more on religious views than on scientific facts and didn’t tolerate criticism. Reading books and articles on evolution, he soon realized that the teacher was promoting creationism in the guise of “intelligent design” – the same approach that was ruled unconstitutional in a 2005 ACLU case in Pennsylvania (Kitzmiller v. Dover). With support from the ACLU-WA and the National Center for Science Education, he worked out an agreement with the school administration that stopped the teaching of intelligent design.
Moyer then tackled freedom of speech at his school, where the official student newspaper had ceased publication. He recruited a student staff to produce an alternative newspaper, The Viking Underground, which the Student Press Law Center has recognized as an exemplar of student free speech. Moyer also helped student at other schools whose newspapers were being censored. Earlier this year, he was one of 16 high school seniors awarded a National ACLU Youth Activist Scholarship for his commitment to civil liberties. He now attends Occidental University in Los Angeles.