A Florida student was indefinitely suspended for organising a statewide walkout in protest of the state’s “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”

Jack Petocz, a student at Flagler Palm Coast High School (FPCHS) in Palm Coast Florida, USA, planned a March 3 rally in order to protest the Parental Rights in Education bill or “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”              

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The bill, which was passed by the Florida House of Representatives 69 – 47 on February 24, prohibits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity.”  It now moves on to the Florida Senate. 

More than 500 FPCHS students, and students from 20 other schools,  participated in the demonstration by walking out of class at 9.30am.

 

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According to Petocz, the protest was initially allowed by the school administration.

He had purchased and began to hand out over 200 rainbow pride flags to participating students when Principal Greg Schwartz told him he was not allowed to hand out the flags.

According to Petocz in an interview in News-Journal, Schwartz “went further to question the intentions of our protest, asking if pride flags were relevant to opposition to the bill.”

Pride Flags Confiscated

Petocz said that prior to the protest, “Administrators began confiscating pride flags and attempted to remove them from campus.

“I encouraged my fellow students not to give in to the school’s unconstitutional seizure of our pride flags, but instead to continue demonstrating our pride in a peaceful manner.”

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After the rally, he was told by the school administration that he was suspended, asked to collect his things, and was escorted off campus immediately. 

Jason Wheeler, a spokesman for the Flagler County School district, told The News-Journal, “ Student leaders were told no flags prior to and at the beginning of the event so as to avoid undue safety concerns and campus disruptions.” 

Reflecting on the protest, Petocz, “I am proud of who I am and I am proud of all of those protesting these regressive bills. We must let our politicians know that no matter how hard they try, they cannot suppress our identities or silence our voices. Gen-Z will not stand idly by as our rights are stripped from us.”

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