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Education

A Sarasota student says he can't discuss 'Don't Say Gay' in his graduation speech

Young man holds hands around his mouth as he yells. A group of young people stand around him, including some wearing masks.
Courtesy Zander Moricz
/
Twitter
High school senior Zander Moricz, seen here leading a walk-out at Pine View School in Sarasota County in early March 2022, is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state and its Parental Rights in Education Law.

Zander Moricz said in a series of social media posts that officials told him leaders have a signal to end his speech if he references his role in the lawsuit or the movement.

A Sarasota County high school student — and one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against what critics call the 'Don't Say Gay' law — says he has been told to keep his activism out of his graduation speech.

The law, formally titled "Parental Rights in Education," was passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year. The legislation prohibits the mention of gender identity or sexual orientation in primary grades, and the mention of it "in a manner that is not age appropriate" in older grades.

Equality Florida, families and other parties filed a lawsuit against the state, saying the new law violates constitutional rights. Zander Moricz is one of the plaintiffs and a senior at Pine View School in Osprey

Moricz said in a series of social media posts that officials told him leaders have a signal to end his speech if he references his role in the lawsuit or the movement.

He spoke to WUSF last month about his need to fight against the "Don't Say Gay" law.

"I am at a privilege where I can use my voice and speak out," he said. "And I know that a lot of my peers and a lot of members of the community are not in a position where they can do that. And so the second that it became an option for me to, it wasn't an option for me not to."

READ MORE: A Sarasota student fears the so-called 'Don't Say Gay' law will harm LGBTQ kids' school experience

In a statement, the Sarasota County School district says that schools review expectations and guidelines for speeches, as well as students' speeches.

The district also confirms that Pine View's principal met with Moricz to remind him of expectations, but added that his speech has not yet been reviewed.

Officials add that graduation is not the place for "personal political statements," and diverting from expectations may necessitate action.

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