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.
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.
FL HS students across the state are leaving their desks in protest of the #DontSayGay bill. Right now, students are at our Capitol PLEADING to lawmakers to not let this go any further.— Eunic Ortiz (she/her) (@eunicortiz) March 3, 2022
You can HEAR the students while lawmakers debate…
…what Florida’s state dessert should be. pic.twitter.com/X3d7DYZ2LW
Tallahassee-area students walked out and headed to the Capitol with a message: "We say gay." ❤️ #DSGWalkout pic.twitter.com/5d5L4GHX8o— Equality Florida (@equalityfl) March 3, 2022
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.
A student just emailed these photos from Largo High School’s walk out in opposition to the #DontSayGay bill. These walk outs are happening across the State of FL! 👇 pic.twitter.com/vmwz3WeVh2— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) March 3, 2022