'My existence should not be an issue to you': Students blast Florida school board over right-wing policies

'My existence should not be an issue to you': Students blast Florida school board over right-wing policies
Image via screengrab.

Parents, students, and teachers expressed their outrage at the Hernando County, Florida School Board meeting on Tuesday amid crackdowns on free speech, civil rights, and education curricula led by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and GOP lawmakers.

On Thursday, The Recount posted videos of two students railing against DeSantis' policies and his attacks on LGBTQIA+ youth.

The first speaker referenced DeSantis' crusade against what right-wingers call "woke indoctrination" in schools:

I am extremely concerned for our future if these are the issues that the Florida state government focuses on, and you should be too. You ever wonder why you don't hear many teachers speaking out on this issue? It's because they're scared. Teacher vacancy has more than doubled since January of 2019, going from 2200 to numbers as high as 5,300. Could it be because students are getting worse? Maybe. Could it be due to the backlash of COVID? Maybe. Or could it be because they're scared to, they're scared to say anything that will get them fired — nonetheless scared to show a Disney movie in class and read a book with a gay character in it, most likely. How are we supposed to get an unbiased education when the teachers are walking on eggshells? To end my point, I'd like to leave you with this. Every person on the school board and the Florida state government most likely has children or grandchildren, and those kids are going to build our future alongside me. While they may build it, teachers are the ones who mold them to be an active member of society, and I am so scared for the future if our teachers, our mentors, are being silenced.

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis accuses teachers of 'forcing' students to pick pronouns

The second individual blasted the school board for ostracizing students.

"And before I begin, I'd like to ask every board member to please give me their full attention as I have not seen that. Good evening. My name is Robert Corden. I am a junior, soon-to-be senior," he excitedly began.

"Calm down," he was told.

Corden restarted:

I'm a junior soon-to-be senior at Nature Coast Technical High School, and I love my school. My school means a lot to me. This county means a lot to me. Over the years of my education here in Hernando County, I have seen a lot of change. Students have changed. School procedures have changed. And what it means to be a student has changed. Members like Member [Shannon] Rodriguez and Member [Mark] Johnson see an issue of teacherless classrooms and instead focus their energy on the LGBTQ community and other problems like getting Superintendent [John] Stratton removed.

READ MORE: Florida law targets education unions that Ron DeSantis says 'defied the state'

News Channel 8 reported on Wednesday that the school board voted 3-2 in favor to keep Stratton, whom conservatives demanded to step down because fifth-grade teacher Jenna Barbee showed Disney's Strange World to her class.

News Channel 8 noted that "the PG-rated movie includes the depiction of a gay teenager" and that "Barbee admitted she didn't receive the required approval before showing the film."

Corden alluded to the incident as he concluded his speech:

This is why teachers are leaving the profession because members like Member Rodriguez and Member Johnson don't listen to the people that they serve. When taking this position, you accepted the responsibility to represent every single student fairly and justly. I do not feel you have done that instead of representing me and other LGBTQ-plus students — cuz yes, we exist — you instead, you instead have alienated and made us feel as if our entire existence is an issue to you. My existence should not be an issue to you, but come next election season, my vote will be.

Watch the clips below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Bigotry and megalomania': Scientific American Editorial board warns of DeSantis’ 'antiscience agenda'

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