JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – High school and college students across Florida plan to walk out of their classrooms on Friday to protest the state’s rapidly changing education policies.
Students at more than 300 Florida high schools and colleges have signed on to the initiative.
Supporters are calling the demonstration “Walkout 2 Learn,” and said that the latest education policies censor school curricula involving race, sexuality and gender.
The end goal of the demonstration is to get the laws changed. Four rallies are also planned, including one Friday night at A. Philip Randolph Heritage Park.
On Thursday, legislators joined the activist group “Walkout to Learn” to protest the Parental Rights in Education Law known by critics as the ”Don’t Say Gay Bill” at the Florida State Capitol.
Proposed legislation would expand the current law banning lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity to include all grade levels, a move that has already been implemented by the State Board of Education.
Several Democratic leaders supported Friday’s protest, including Jacksonville Rep. Angie Nixon.
“Republicans…claim that they hate cancel culture,” Nixon said. “However, they are literally the ones trying to cancel cultures. They’re trying to cancel our communities. They’re trying to cancel the ability for our students—our babies—to learn, to be taught true history, Black history, LGBTQ history, trans history, our history, American history.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis commented on the Parental Rights in Education Law on Wednesday at an event in Charleston, S.C.
“Gender ideology has no place in our K through 12 school system,“ DeSantis said. “It’s wrong for a teacher to tell a student that they may have been born in the wrong body or that their gender is a choice and so we don’t let that happen in Florida.”
The Individual Freedom Act, previously the “Stop W.O.K.E Act,” and the ban on DEI programs at state colleges are the other two pieces of legislation that are also under scrutiny by the groups.
The Individual Freedom Act limits how public schools and businesses can discuss race and gender. The ban on DEI programs at state colleges prevents schools from funding programs on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Locally, the planned protest against these bills is expected to take place at A. Philip Randolph Park at 6 p.m., following a statewide school walkout at noon.