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Doylestown Council honors 2 students for combating hate, child sexual abuse


Doylestown Borough recently launched its first annual Youth Leadership Award by recognizing two high school students who have used their talents to improve their community, officials said.

Reese Grasso and Jackson Manning, both Central Bucks students, were selected from many applicants, said Councilman Ben Bell. “It was very impressive.”

Unable to choose just one, the council agreed on two teens, Grasso and Manning. Both have advocated for LGBTQ+ youth in Doylestown, supporting their civil rights and safety.

“This award means so much more than just recognition for the work that I do,” said Grasso. “This award shows that what I’m doing means so much more. Our voices are being heard and we have to continue.”

Bell called Grasso an “inspiring leader in our community.” The Central Bucks West student is a member of the Rainbow Room, a guest curator for the Michener Art Museum, an officer in the Gay Straight Alliance at CB West, where she helped grow the membership to more than 40 students, and a member of two honor societies.

“Borough council was struck by the courage and dedication you have shown to improving the quality of life in the borough and in fighting hate and discrimination wherever it originates, from the classroom to the school board,” said Bell, in presenting Grasso with the award.

Manning was also presented with the award for his “profound personal courage, sharing with law enforcement his own victimization as a student by a school district employee to assure the victimization stopped with him,” said Bell.

The CB West student spoke out at a school board meeting, identifying himself as one of the sexual assault victims of a district teacher, the councilman said. Manning called on the board to update its code of conduct policies and reporting measures to further protect children.

He has worked with the Beau Biden Foundation, supporting its mission to combat child abuse and bullying, to bring its program to the Central Bucks community. Manning also spoke to Doylestown Health about his personal story, “to illustrate why we must prevent grooming and child sexual abuse.”

Manning identified himself as one of two “John Doe” students whose families are suing the school district for alleged abuse by a CB teacher.

While Manning said he was honored to receive the award, he added, “I’d actually like to pass it on even though my name is on it. It’s really for not only myself, but everyone who stood with me in the process. It’s something to be prized and awarded, but kindness and safety is something that should be normalized, not celebrated.”

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