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'Kids are alright': Students stage massive walkout to protest Florida's ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

The huge crowd of students waved rainbow flags and held placards showing their support for the LGBTQIA++ community.

'Kids are alright': Students stage massive walkout to protest Florida's ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill
Image source: TikTok/@emilysuyamaa

High school students of many Florida schools staged a massive walkout to protest the state's “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed by the Florida legislature. The video showing hundreds of school kids showing up in numbers to support queer people has gone viral, garnering more than 2.1 million views and nearly 150,000 likes. The video shows kids in support of the queer people, waving rainbow flags, wearing rainbow heart stickers and holding up placards showing their support. The video was posted on TikTok by @emilysuyamaa and the onscreen text read: “My school had a walkout today because of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in FL and this is how it went.” The kids could be heard chanting, "we say gay" and some could be seen holding placards reading: “trans rights are human rights,” “born this way” and “it’s okay to say gay.”



The Florida Senate passed the bill earlier this month that prohibits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in the state’s primary schools. The bill has since been dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by LGBTQ advocates. Students across Florida schools stepped out to show their support for the LGBTQ community. “The language and the supporters of the bill and the rhetoric around the bill really shows what this bill is, and it’s an attempt to hurt queer people like me,” said high school senior Jack Petocz. He later confirmed that he was suspended “indefinitely” for distributing 200 Pride flags at the rally against the advice of the principal.



“This is going to endanger the safety of our LGBTQ students and adolescents,” said Annette Taddeo, a Democrat, reported NBC News. “We will not stop until this state moves forward and actually values everyone in it, everyone no matter their sexual orientation.” Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has already indicated he will sign the bill. “We’re going to make sure that parents are able to send their kid to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum,” he said. Republicans are trying to distance themselves from the use of the word gay but advocates and experts have made it clear that it targets the queer community. Teachers could be sued for discussing or mentioning gay or transgender people in school. 


Critics have said that the bill unfairly targets the LGBTQ community. The bill prohibits any teaching related to sexual orientation or gender identity “in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” It also enables parents to sue school districts for alleged violations. Conservative people could sue schools for any such discussion in schools, which in turn could harm the LGBTQ community. Shevrin Jones, the first openly gay Florida state senator, gave an emotional speech pleading with his colleagues to narrow the bill's language, clearly stating that the bill would harm the LGBTQ community. “I ask that you open up your hearts just a tad bit,” the Democrat told his colleagues, recalling the discrimination and bullying he faced as a gay man. “Please, do no harm.”



Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called out the bill and said it violated federal civil rights. "Instead, leaders in Florida are prioritizing hateful bills that hurt some of the students most in need," said Cardona. "The Department of Education has made clear that all schools receiving federal funding must follow federal civil rights law, including Title IX’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We stand with our LGBTQ+ students in Florida and across the country, and urge Florida leaders to make sure all their students are protected and supported." If DeSantis signs the bill, the bill will go into effect from July 1. 



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