Students across Florida stage walkouts in protest of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation

Thousands of Florida students rallied at their respective campuses Thursday in protest of HB1557, the Parental Rights in Education Bill, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thousands of Florida students rallied at their respective campuses Thursday in protest of HB1557, the Parental Rights in Education Bill, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The measure has already gotten approval from the Florida House of Representatives and is poised to be considered in the state Senate in the coming days.

Students staged the demonstrations at schools in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Tampa, Orlando, Palm Coast and others.

Students of at least five high schools in Northeast Florida stages walk-out demonstrations in protest of the "Don't Say Gay" bill on March 3, 2022. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

The student credited as the “main organizer” of the state-wide, student-led demonstrations was Flagler County student Jake Petocz. Multiple sources told News4JAX that Petocz was suspended from Flagler Palm Coast High School Thursday afternoon.

One of Petocz’s classmates, Cameron Driggers, 17, said the turnout at his school was massive.

“We had a lot of kids coming together, even if they weren’t part of LGBT community, showing that they had their signs and their flags, and it was a really beautiful moment,” Driggers said. “I’m so glad to be part of it.”

The rallies also made an impact at the Florida State Capitol.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Joe Harding, states that “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” A parent could sue a district for violations.


About the Author:

Joe covers education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.