LGBTQ student says he’s being blocked from running for class president after suspension over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ protest
A 17-year-old gay Florida high school student who was suspended after organizing a highly-successful statewide protest against Governor Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law now says school officials are blocking him from running for class president.
Jack Petocz was suspended for four days, he and school administrators say, for handing out several hundred small LGBTQ Pride flags just before the walkout that drew hundreds of his classmates at Flagler Palm Coast High School and thousands of students across the Sunshine State. The walkout he organized was approved by school administrators although reports at the time say barely hours before it began he was told to cancel it. That order allegedly came one day after a school board member who has opposed Petocz in the past toured his school.
Now Petocz wants to run for senior class president.
In a letter he posted to Twitter he says school officials told him there would be no additional disciplinary action against him after his suspension but, he says, one month later they “broke this verbal agreement and placed a level 3 referral on my record. Now, due to this high level of discipline, I am being prevented from running for senior class president. I am continuing to be punished for standing up for my identity and against widespread hatred. I’ve emailed administration and the principal numerous times, they’re simply ignoring me.”
If you want to help me fight, click the link below to send an email to administrators and the superintendent of my district. It\u2019s ridiculous queer kids have to be punished while fighting for our rights. https://tinyurl.com/standwithjack— Jack Petocz (@Jack Petocz) 1652811512
NBC News reports “school district spokesman Jason Wheeler said Flagler Schools was not permitted to speak about individual students’ disciplinary records. Requirements for individual on-campus clubs or organizations are set by the schools or clubs themselves, he said.”
Literary and human rights organization PEN America is honoring Petocz this month, the Associated Press reported.
“Jack Petocz is leading his generation in fighting back against book bans and legislative efforts to police how individual identities can be discussed in schools,” CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.
Jack Petocz (@Jack_Petocz) is PEN America\u2019s 2022 PEN/Benenson Courage Award recipient. He will receive the award at the PEN America Literary Gala in New York City on May 23. Learn more: https://pen.org/press-release/pen-america-to-honor-florida-high-school-activist-jack-petocz-for-organizing-book-ban-and-dont-say-gay-protests-statewide/\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/IJwXSZOaLM— PEN America (@PEN America) 1652815411
This week he picked up support from U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), Florida’s former governor who is running again to be governor.
Leadership is when you stand up when others won\u2019t. \n\nLet @Jack_Petocz run!https://apnews.com/article/education-florida-government-and-politics-5088507783d1c76535300dd8cf59344e\u00a0\u2026— Charlie Crist (@Charlie Crist) 1653004051
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