Thousands of Florida students protested HB1557, the Parental Rights in Education Bill, popularly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, on their campuses on Thursday.
The bill has already passed the Florida House of Representatives and is expected to be debated in the state Senate in the coming weeks.
Demonstrations were held in schools in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Tampa, Orlando, and Palm Coast, among other places.
Jake Petocz, a Flagler County teenager, was named the “primary organizer” of the state-wide student-led demonstrations. Petocz was suspended from Flagler Palm Coast High School on Thursday afternoon, according to multiple sources.
Cameron Driggers, 17, one of Petocz’s friends, claimed the attendance at his school was tremendous.
“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.”
At the Florida State Capitol, the rallies had an impact.
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.