Zander Moricz has been warned by the school principal to not mention his activism during his graduation speech.
An openly gay high school student has accused the school principal of censoring him for protesting the "Don't Say Gay" law. Zander Moricz is graduating from Pine View School in Osprey, Florida, and is the first class president to be openly gay and the first to have been elected in all four years. "My principal is censoring me. My human rights are too controversial for his school," said Moricz, who said the queer community "refuses to be dragged backward in history." He is the youngest public plaintiff in the “Don’t Say Gay" lawsuit and said the principal has warned him to not make a reference to his activism with regards to the law. The high school senior is now organizing a mass protest among his peers against the "Don't Say Gay" law.
A few days ago, my principal called me into his office and informed me that if my graduation speech referenced my activism or role as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, school administration had a signal to cut off my microphone, end my speech, and halt the ceremony. (2/8)— zander moricz (@zandermoricz) May 9, 2022
"A few days ago, my principal called me into his office and informed me that if my graduation speech referenced my activism or role as a plaintiff in the "Don't Say Gay" lawsuit, the school administration had a signal to cut off my microphone, end my speech, and halt the ceremony," he wrote on Twitter. "I will be the only student speaker at graduation, and I cannot speak about who I am." Moricz stated that this was the second time the principal attempted to silence him. Earlier this year, Moricz led student protests as he and his classmates walked out in protest against the law passed in Florida. "I was called into my principal's office when he discovered my intention to hold a walkout against 'Don't Say Gay.' Again, he threatened to shut me down this time with the promise of school security officers. I ignored his attempt to silence our student body and organized my county's largest protest. Hundreds of students joined, begging not for acceptance from our representatives, but tolerance," he wrote.
Moricz's accusations point to the long-stated criticism that the ambiguity of the law is deliberate and aims to curb and silence members of the LGBTQ+ community. He is planning to make a statement at the graduation having created more than 10,000 "Say Gay" stickers through their Social Equity and Education (SEE) initiative. He intends to send the stickers to high school seniors across Florida. "We will proudly wear them on our gowns as we cross the graduation stage, protesting those who preach selective freedom. As we accept our diplomas, we'll transform the target placed on the queer community into a spotlight. This demonstration will show Governor DeSantis, our legislature, my principal, and all students that while seniors are finished with high school, we are not finished fighting," said Moricz.
The student leader also posed strong questions about the Supreme Court's ability to defend human rights after a leaked draft revealed Roe v. Wade could be overturned. "It is clear that we will no longer be able to rely on the courts to defend human rights. They are coming for all of us. When criticism of gay marriage is interwoven with the destruction of fundamental health care, and constitutional rights are erased as though they were never ours, what is stopping the Court from revoking marriage equality next?" he wrote.
"If you are a high school senior, we need your help. Let us know how many stickers you need, and we will send them to you — for free. We may be escaping Florida's public school system, but we owe it to the thousands that are not to say gay," he wrote.
A Change petition has also been started to let Zander Moricz speak his mind in his graduation speech. "Zander has received repeated threats from the administration about his LGBTQ+ rights. When the administration discovered that he was organizing a Say Gay walkout, they had all of the posters ripped from the walls and told him to shut down the protest. They said they would send school security if he did not listen. He held the walkout anyways, and it became Sarasota county’s largest protest. We must fight back, stand up, and speak out," read the petition.