State Watch

Hundreds of Florida students stage walkout to protest ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Hundreds of students at a Florida high school on Monday participated in a walkout in protest of the state’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which could see a final vote in the state’s Senate as soon as Tuesday.

More than 500 students at Winter Park High School in Orange County walked out of their classes to protest the Parental Rights in Education bill, or HB 1557, which would bar educators from speaking to primary school students about specific LGBTQ+ topics that are not considered “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” 

The walkout was organized by high school juniors Will Larkins and Maddi Zornek, according to CNN. Students reportedly started leaving their classes at 9 a.m. to protest the legislation, with some chanting, “We say gay!” and holding signs with messages including “Protect trans kids.”

“We wanted to show our government that this isn’t going to stop,” Larkins told CNN. “There were walkouts all last week. This is going to continue. If this passes, there will be protests everywhere. We wanted to get the attention of our representatives, our senators, because the point is to show them that we are the ones in powers. The people are the ones in powers, and what they’re doing doesn’t represent us, especially marginalized groups.”

Last week, Larkins also reportedly testified against the bill in front of the state Senate Appropriations Committee. 

The walkout was one of many in high schools across Florida protesting the bill, which has gained national attention and condemnation from LGBT rights advocates and the Biden administration.

HB 1557 passed the House in a 69-47 vote last month. It cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee last week by a 12-8 vote. 

While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signaled his support for the bill, he has not definitively said whether he would sign it if it reaches his desk.

If approved, the legislation would go into effect in July. 

Tags anti-LGBTQ Don't Say Gay Don't Say Gay bill Florida gay rights LGBT Ron DeSantis student protest Student walkout Walkout

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