Florida class president couldn’t talk about being gay in his high school graduation speech – that’s why he talked about his curly hair
A Florida high school class president says he wasn’t allowed to share his experiences as a gay student in his commencement speech, or how the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law of State [que restringe determinados tópicos LGBTI nas salas de aula na Flórida] will affect students like him. So he talked about another thing that makes him a bit different from his peers: his curly hair.
Zander Moricz, 18, was active in social justice causes as a student at Pine View School in Osprey, Fla., and led a student walkout in March to protest the controversial measure banning some teachings on the orientation and gender identity in schools, which takes effect in July. He is also one of the signatories of a lawsuit challenging the law.
Moricz told CNN that a few weeks before graduation, the school principal met with him and told him he couldn’t talk about it.
“He always supported me and my identity and I was very hurt,” he said.
Moricz came out during his freshman year and served as the school’s first openly gay class president, so he felt responsible for responding to the controversy. As he told CNN, school is the only guaranteed space children have in the state.
“When you have this guaranteed space and you make it a space that victimizes an entire population of students, what you are doing is forcing children to choose between not going out safely or not going out at all” , said.
So when it came time to speak at Sunday’s ceremony, Moricz took off his hat and stuck his head out.
“Before, I hated my curls. I used to spend mornings and nights embarrassed by them and desperately trying to straighten that part of who I am. But the daily ravages of trying to fix me became too much,” a- he said in his speech. “So, although it’s hard to have curly hair in Florida because of the humidity, I decided to be proud of who I am and started coming to school like the real thing. me.”
According to Moricz, his teachers were among the first people he turned to for advice because he didn’t have “other curly-haired people” to talk to, and he said the support he received at school had helped him grow.
“Now I’m happy. Now I’m happy, and that’s what it’s all about. There will be so many curly-haired kids who need a community like Pine View – and who don’t won’t have any,” Moricz said. he said. “Instead, they will try to repair themselves so they can exist in Florida’s humid climate.”
After the speech, Pine View School Principal Stephen Covert clapped and hugged Moricz onstage. “We honor and celebrate the incredible diversity of thoughts, beliefs and backgrounds at our school, and we champion the uniqueness of each student in their personal and educational journey,” Covert said in a statement.
Moricz said he had an emotional time backstage after the ceremony, with school officials who have been there for him over the years.
Sarasota County Schools said in a statement that school administrators review all commencement speeches before they are read and confirmed that Covert met with Moricz before submitting his speech, “to remind him expectations of the ceremony”.
“As in previous years, student lecturers were reminded that graduation is a celebration of the community and they were encouraged to tailor their comments to reflect experiences and memories that all students might cherish in order to better reflect all facets of the achievements of the promotion of trainees”. , the statement said.
Moricz was also the first student to be elected class president in all four years of high school, so he’s been thinking about that speech since he was a freshman. He ended up writing the speech, which was approved by the school, in about a day.
In the speech, he reminded his classmates of the times they came together against racist violence and to draw attention to the climate crisis, as well as a failed campaign to convince rap star Pitbull to perform. in the school gymnasium.
Students have power and they need to use it, Moricz said.
“When you waste your power, what you’re really doing is giving it to those who already have it, and now those with more power go to those who have less,” he said. in his speech. “We shouldn’t have to deal with this, but we will.”
Moricz told CNN the controversy over his speech over the past few weeks has been disastrous, but he has no hard feelings toward the principal or school officials. “I’m mad at the governor and I’m mad at our lawmakers in Florida,” Moricz told CNN. “That’s where my anger is directed, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I hold them all somewhat responsible. We’re all responsible for pushing against things like this.”
Moricz plans to attend Harvard University in the fall to study government policy.