Politics

Plaintiff in Don’t Say Gay lawsuit alleges they’re being silenced at Florida high school

High schoolers at Lyman High School in Seminole County were supposed to receive their yearbooks this past Monday, but as reported by local outlet WESH, the distribution was canceled because of photos of students protesting the Don’t Say Gay bill back in March. Those photos will be covered up before students receive the yearbooks.

According to the outlet, Principal Michael Hunter has said the protest was not sponsored or endorsed by the school and the resulting images did not meet “school board policy.” They’ll be covering the images in order to save time and money in reprinting the yearbook entirely at this point.

Mind you, the photos include students holding rainbow flags and signs with language like “Love is Love.” 

Now students are frustrated that their identities and experiences are being edited out of the yearbook, and some have started a social media initiative called Stop The Stickers. Some students in the yearbook are also planning to advocate at the school district’s school board meetings. 

Students are, honestly, incredible. And they shouldn’t have to be. We’ve covered the story of Will Larkins, a high schooler who gave a (teacher-approved) lesson on the history of Stonewall to their class and then was transferred to a different classroom and put under an “investigation.” That classroom, according to the student, includes a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. Yikes!

We’ve also covered the story of an openly queer teacher being fired after allowing students in her art class to paint flags related to LGBTQ+ identities. 

There is hope, though. As we’ve also covered, brave students and advocates are working to sue the state of Florida over the discriminatory legislation. The lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Tallahassee in early April, argues that the law violates free speech, equal protection, and due process as outlined in the constitution. Now, Zander Moricz, who on Twitter identifies themselves as the youngest public plaintiff in the suit, has taken to social media to share some deeply concerning allegations.

In a long Twitter thread on May 9, 2022, Morciz alleged that their high school principal called them into their office to discuss their graduation speech. Morciz says the principal told them if they referenced their role in the suit or their advocacy that they would cut the mic and stop the ceremony. Morciz says they are the first openly gay class president in the school’s history and they’re worried they’ll be the last. 

They went on to claim that the administration pushed back against their attempts to mobilize classmates for a protest about the Don’t Say Gay bill, including removing posters and threatening to call security. Moricz did end up holding the protest, and is now working to get 10,000 Say Gay stickers sent to high schoolers across the state. 

Again, youth—and especially LGBTQ+ youth—are amazing. But they shouldn’t have to be. 

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