For this special holiday episode, we handed the reins over to the ACLU kids.

For this special holiday episode, we handed the reins over to the ACLU kids.

Listen closely and you might even hear some familiar voices!

Together, with their adults, they talk about what we do to fight for civil rights and civil liberties. You’ll hear from our ACLU family all across the country and they have some pretty interesting insights to share. 

We hope you enjoy!




From the ACLU, this is At Liberty. I’m your host. Shhhh, don’t tell Kendall.

Hey, that’s my job! Okay okay, fine. You can have a turn.

Today’s episode is a kid takeover. We talked to our parents about what they do at the ACLU.

That’s right! For this special holiday episode, we handed the reins over to the ACLU kids. Together, with their adults, they talk about what we do to fight for civil rights and civil liberties. You’ll hear from our ACLU family all across the country and they have some pretty interesting insights to share. We hope you enjoy!

DONNA LEONARD: [00:00:47] So what is it that you think mommy does for work all day?

DONNA LEONARD’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD:She works on her computer for the United States, and she she tries her best with us.

DONNA: [Laughter]

CAROLYN EHRLICH: What do I work on?

CAROLYN EHRLICH’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: Making sure people decide for themselves if they’re gonna have a baby or not.


JANNA FARLEY’S 11-YEAR-OLD: You write emails to people and you write stuff to help with other bills and stuff.


MARIA SANCHEZ: Save people. Who do I save?

MARIA’S FOUR-YEAR-OLD: Um people that other people are being mean to.

MARIA: Yes. And what else?

MARIA’S FOUR-YEAR-OLD: And, um. Let me think. Um. And you um you keep people from getting hurt.

JESSICA WEITZ: What do you think the ACLU does?

JESSICA WEITZ’S SEVEN-YEAR-OLD: They save people I think.

JESSICA: Like what kind of people?


JESSICA: People in Texas…

GWEN SCHROEDER: You know what the ACLU is?

GWEN SCHROEDER’S 10-YEAR-OLD: It is — let me think. Okay, elaborate. Coughing, leopards, undercover.

GWEN: Close.

GWEN’S FAMILY: [laughs]

[00:02:01] Close!

Jokes aside, our kids have a pretty good understanding of what we do here at the ACLU and they have some impressive and important observations and questions.

Here’s a conversation between Jessica Weitz and her 12-year-old son.

JESSICA: [00:02:17] Hi. This is Jessica Weitz. I’m the director of artist engagement at the ACLU. And I am lucky enough to be sitting here talking with my son Ethan, who has a lot of opinions. So I’m slightly nervous, but mostly excited to hear what he has to say. So, Ethan, what do I do all day for my work?

JESSICA’S 12-YEAR-OLD: Um, so you. I think you just said, ah, the Director of Artist Engagement at the American Civil Liberties Union. So from what you’ve told me, I think you work with celebrities, actors, artists, musicians. I think that’s it.

JESSICA: What does the ACLU do, Ethan, in your own words?

JESSICA’S 12-YEAR-OLD: In my own words as I open up the ACLU website. No, I’m kidding. I’m not, I promise, my phone. No, I’m kidding. So the ACLU, otherwise known as the American Civil Liberties Union, trust me I have repeated that a lot of times when people ask me what my mom does, is an organization that’s a nonprofit that works on topics to defend the rights, civil rights of people living in this country, not just citizens also like immigrants. So you do like trans youth and gay marriage rights as well as like abortion rights and also like immigration rights and like lots of rights, not lefts.

JESSICA: And no wrongs.

JESSICA’S 12-YEAR-OLD: And no wrongs.

JESSICA: Because two wrongs don’t make…

JESSICA’S 12-YEAR-OLD: A civil right.

JESSICA: Buh Dum Chhhh. If you were applying for a job right now, babe, I would hire you in a second. I think you’d be great.

JESSICA’S 12-YEAR-OLD: [00:03:50] You’re welcome for the Chuck Schumer thing. Chuck, please, please bring the PWFA, right? Pregnant Women’s Fairness Act?

JESSICA: Workers.

JESSICA’S 12-YEAR-OLD: PWFA. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to the Senate. And please vote on it. You have — it’s a bipartisan vote.

JESSICA: So it sounds like you’ve been lobbying recently. Ethan, I don’t know if we should be.

JESSICA’S 12-YEAR-OLD: I have. I saw Chuck Schumer at Whole Foods and talked to him. I’ve interviewed him before as well for my school newspaper.

JESSICA: And what did you ask him for your school newspaper?

JESSICA’S 12-YEAR-OLD: Abortion stuff about New York. He has some interesting answers. I don’t think I fully conveyed over the question, though, so I don’t think he fully answered it how I wanted him to answer. Now I have Eric Adams’s press secretaries, you know.

JESSICA: Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

KENDALL: [00:04:42] It sure doesn’t. Hey we need all the lobbying we can get for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. I, for one, love bothering Senators in the grocery store.

Next, we’ll hear from Jace Woodrum, the Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina, speaking with his 7-year-old about his work on behalf of trans rights.

JACE WOODRUM: What do you think that I do at work?

JACE WOODRUM’S SEVEN-YEAR-OLD: Well, I think you go to the statehouse and you make sure the rules are right?

JACE: Yeah. I want to tell you about something I’m working on. Is that okay?


JACE: Okay. So you know that I’m transgender, right?


JACE: [00:05:30] And at the statehouse, at our capital right now, the people in charge are trying to make a law or a rule that says that transgender kids can’t go to a doctor and get what they need. Does that sound like a fair rule to you?


JACE: Yeah. How does it make you feel to think about a rule like that?


JACE: Yeah. Makes me sad, too. What should we do about it?

JACE’S SEVEN-YEAR-OLD: Uh, say no and say this rule is not okay.

JACE: I think that is what we’re going to do. I think we’re going to say it’s not fair. Transgender people belong and everybody deserves health care, right?


JACE: Yeah. Do you have any questions about my job?

JACE’S SEVEN-YEAR-OLD: Do you have a candy machine?

JACE: I don’t have a candy machine.


JACE: Yeah. It makes me think maybe I should have more candy at work.

JACE’S SEVEN-YEAR-OLD: [laughs] Do you at least have a vending machine?

JACE: We don’t have a vending machine. We do have some chips that are left over from a great big protest where we had a hundred more people come to the statehouse to say, we don’t like that rule, we don’t like that law and the chips are left over. So sometimes I get some chips, is that good?


JACE: That’s pretty good.

KENDALL: [00:06:59] I think maybe we should up our snack game, feels like we’re really onto something here. Consider this my official request to senior leadership for some nice candy in the office. It’s for the kids!

Now we have Akilah Deernose, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Montana, in conversation with her 8-year-old and 11-year-old. It’s a family affair!

AKILAH DEERNOSE: [00:07:27] What do you think the ACLU does?

AKILAH’S EIGHT-YEAR-OLD: I think the ACLU like helps people get through problems. Maybe, like, if you were maybe transgender and no one was believing you. They’re just maybe laughing at you or ignoring it. They know that’s not right. They’d help you so you can be heard.

AKILAH: That is an excellent answer, Zig. And how about you Imara?

AKILAH’S 11-YEAR-OLD: I think they’re a group of attorneys and other people who help organize things and try and help pass legislation and might help stop bills to likely to change people’s lives for the better and they help organize things to inform people.

AKILAH: They’re really good answers. And so how about — and you guys are both right, like we both we file lawsuits and then we have an advocacy and policy department that works in the legislation legislative session to do kind of the things you said, Imara, to help make sure that bad bills don’t get passed and good bills do get passed. That would probably be the easiest way to say it. And so since I’m in the legal department, I do more litigation. And so, for example, you know that right now I’m working on a case where we’ve brought lawsuit against a bad law in Montana that makes it that makes it nearly impossible for transgender individuals to correct the sex marker on their birth certificate, which is an identity document. So that allows them to have the accurate sex marker identified on their ID. So, for instance, if you knew something about yourself, like you know who you are and say the state or your school, people around the community said, no, that’s not who you are. And also we don’t even believe that is a thing. You’re not allowed to tell us who you are. And when you do tell us, we’re not going to believe that. How would that make you feel?

AKILAH’S EIGHT-YEAR-OLD: Bad, sad and a little angry that no one believed me.

AKILAH: Because who knows that most about you?


AKILAH’S 11-YEAR-OLD: Yeah, it feels really bad. And I think it’s still like really scary because you know who you are, like, better than anyone else. And like, I think that you should get to choose for you.

AKILAH: That’s a great answer.

KENDALL: [00:09:52] It’s amazing to me how simple this stuff really is. We can all understand how it would feel to not be able to be who you really are. A lot of our work at the ACLU reminds me of that one golden rule we’re taught growing up: treat others like you’d want to be treated.

Okay, next up we have an impressive rundown of voting rights with ACLU’s Senior Staff Attorney Ari Savitzky and his 5-year-old.

ARI SAVITZKY: [00:10:18] What do you think the ACLU does?


ARI: Hmmm. What do you mean?

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: They like try to, they try to. They like, do good voting?

ARI: Hmm. Good voting.

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: I don’t really know what. I don’t really like know what your job does, but I think I do.

ARI: What is voting?

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: It’s where you try to — It’s where people go to somewhere and choose who the president is going to be?

ARI: Yeah. Just the president or other things too?

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: Other people, but I don’t know who those people are going to be.

ARI: Okay. Can I tell you a little bit more about the things that I do at work?


ARI: So one of the things that I try to do is make it so that everybody has a fair chance to vote, so that everyone can vote for those different offices like the president or mayor or the senator. So I try to make it so that everyone has a fair chance at being able to vote and being able to elect the people that they want to represent them. So sometimes that means going to a court and a judge and saying that the rules for voting, some rules, aren’t fair to everyone and don’t give everyone an equal chance. And that means I have to meet people who live in places that have unfair rules. And I have to go to a court and say that those people have rights, too, and that they deserve an equal chance to vote and choose their leaders. What do you think? Do you have any questions about that?

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: [00:12:10] So like, why would they be fighting for voting if a lot of people in where we live can vote? Like when me and my daddy go, we, when it’s time for us to vote, we go and vote. But I don’t know why you guys tell other people that they can vote if a lot of people already can vote.

ARI: That’s a good point. And it’s really good that a lot of people can vote. And it’s really good that we live in a place where voting is usually pretty easy.

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: Like like. Like we live in a place where well, me and daddy, mommy, me and my little sister, but why can’t other people in like other people in other places, do it? Why can’t people vote whenever they want?

ARI: Yeah, well, you know, I think I think that even here where we live.

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: And they can only and they can only vote on Election Day.

ARI: Well, that’s true. And you know what?

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: And what is Election Day?

ARI: Oh, my gosh. Those are all great questions. So Election Day is the day that people vote, but a lot of places let you vote early. So there isn’t just one Election Day. There’s lots of election days. And you know what? That’s good. And, you know, why that’s good because it makes it easier to vote.

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: But is there like a special place where people go?

ARI: Yeah, pretty much. It’s called your polling place. And most people have a polling place.

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: Do we have a polling place?

ARI: Yeah. Usually our polling place for election day is the school down the street. And if we go early, we have a different polling place and different states and different places have different rules. And a lot of states have early voting. And early voting is really good.

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: [00:14:00] And we have early voting?

ARI: We have early voting, too. But, you know, they’re always things that places can do to make it easier to vote. And unfortunately, there are some times when states make it harder for people to vote. And sometimes it’s true, you know, a lot of a lot of people can’t vote, but sometimes they make it harder and sometimes it’s harder for some people than others. Sometimes, you know, for us, we have different places we can go. We can walk down the street to our polling place. But what if you had to go 10 miles? And what if it was only open one day and it wasn’t open early too. That would be pretty hard, right.

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: Mhmm. And why would you have to walk ten miles?

ARI: [00:14:42] What if that’s where they put it? What if there was only one place you had to go in the whole city? Or hey, I have a question. What if you had to stand in line for 3 hours? Do you think it’d be pretty hard to vote if you had to stand in line for 3 hours?

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: And then by the time you were done, it would be like it would be the morning.

ARI: Oh, my gosh, what if it was like midnight and you had to stand in line until midnight? Do you think that would be fair or unfair?

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: Unfair. Do you want to talk about it some more or do you think you have a better idea about it now?

ARI’S FIVE-YEAR-OLD: Well, I also want to say that I want to grow up to be someone who fights for voting too like you.

ARI: Oh, that’s very sweet. You know what? You can figure out what you want to do as you get older.

KENDALL: [00:15:34] The LEGACY! I can already tell that we have a little voting rights activist in our midst.

Ok, last but certainly not least we have Ria Tabacco Mar speaking with her 6-year-old who also stole my job in the intro and did such a great job. I guess I should be worried about my competition!

RIA: [00:15:55] I’m Ria Tabacco Mar, director of the Women’s Rights Project and I am here with my six year old. I wanted to tell you about a case I’m working on on behalf of kids just like you. What if I told you there was a school that said all of the girls at the school had to wear skirts and only boys could wear pants, but some of the girls didn’t want to wear skirts every day? What do you think about that?

RIA’S SIX-YEAR-OLD: Well, I have, like three reasons why it’s not fair. One of the reasons is that some people dance. And if you want to dance, you can dance with a tutu, like girls have tutus and boys can do it, too.

RIA: That’s true. Girls and boys can wear tutus. People of any gender can wear it to do. What was your second reason?

RIA’S SIX-YEAR-OLD: If it’s a really cold day, you actually have to wear a tutu.

RIA: Do you think girls might be cold if they had to wear a skirt on a cold day?

RIA’S SIX-YEAR-OLD: Yes. So the third reason is that I don’t actually like tutus that much.

RIA: Yeah. I don’t like wearing tutus to school or work either.

RIA: Okay thank you for being on the podcast.

KENDALL: [00:17:17] I don’t know about you all but I think I’d only want to wear a tutu when in a dance class and maybe not even then!

In all seriousness, this was a lot of fun! Thanks so much to all of our ACLU kids for brightening our lives and reminding us about the important stuff.

And thanks to you all for listening. We’ll be back next year with more new episodes. Until then, stay kind.

GWEN’S 10-YEAR-OLD: [00:17:42] Make sure to like and subscribe.

GWEN’S FAMILY: [laughter].