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Des Moines High School Student Honored by ACLU of Iowa

Maria Filippone, Glori's mother.
Glori Dei Filippone holds up a sign that reads "You Are Loved" during a rally held in opposition of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Roosevelt High School student Glori Dei Filippone of Des Moines is being honored with the ACLU of Iowa’s annual Mannheimer Youth Advocacy Award. 

This past January the Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based Christian group with anti-LGBTQ views, planned to picket East High School in Des Moines. The then-16-year-old Filippone and her friend Cole Rehbein organized a lunch-time “Love Rally” where they chanted messages of support for LGBTQ equality. Roughly 700 students from across Des Moines attended the rally.

"They never actually did get out of their car and protest the school. They saw the amount of people and just kept driving, kept going. That was exactly the best case scenario that could have happened," says Fillipone. "Our point wasn't to change their way of thinking. Our point was to protect and shield the children of East High School." 

In 2013 the ACLU of Iowa represented the Westboro Baptist Church in a class action case. The ACLU successfully argued in federal district court for Westboro’s First Amendment right to desecrate the U.S. flag during demonstrations. Law enforcement in Council Bluffs, Red Oak and Des Moines had ordered the group to stop.

"Glori at a very young age has been able to embody a key element of the ACLU's work," says ACLU of Iowa Executive Director Jeremy Rosen, in a press release. "She fought hate speech not by ordering it shut down, but instead by countering with more speech."

Filippone is also a founding member of the Des Moines Student Activism Network, where she focuses on environmental advocacy.