Gay student says school stopping run for student leadership

LGBTQ youth
The student led a protest of a controversial parental rights bill.

A 17-year-old gay student who was suspended for leading protests at his high school against Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” legislation says school administrators are now stopping him from running for senior class president.

Because of the disciplinary infractions he received for leading the protests at Flagler Palm Coast High School in March, school administrators are preventing him for running for the elected student body office, Jack Petocz said in a letter posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

“I am continuing to be punished for standing up for my identity and against widespread hatred,” Petocz wrote. “We shouldn’t be subject to abuse both in Tallahassee and at-home.”

In an email, 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.

“The district has no say in setting those requirements or in how those requirements are enforced,” Wheeler said.

Petocz is being honored next week with an award at the 2022 PEN America Literary Gala for organizing students to protest the Florida legislation and fighting book bans. PEN America is a New York-based nonprofit that advocates for free speech and is made up of novelists, journalists and other writers.

“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,” PEN America said in a news release announcing that the Florida student would be receiving an award.

The Florida legislation, signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in March, bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

More than 500 Flagler Palm Coast High School students walked out in protest of the legislation in early March, as well as thousands of other students around Florida. Petocz says he defied school officials’ orders not to distribute 300 rainbow pride flags he had purchased for the protest. He was suspended for four days afterward, he said.

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Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


2 comments

  • Anna

    May 19, 2022 at 7:39 pm

    You can’t run because you broke the rules. It has nothing to do with being gay. Quit acting like a victim. You’re just another white male that broke the rules. Try being an African American lesbian for a day. Get over yourself.

  • Ricardo Torres

    May 20, 2022 at 12:18 am

    I don’t think any school needs a district spokesman. A school is not in the business of politics and Jason Wheeler is not one to understand issues enough to know what is good for students and what harms them. Jack Petocz is prohibited from running for class president for organizing a protest. What about the 1st amendment? Jack hasn’t lied, advocated for or used violence, or done anything to merit being blocked from running for class president.

Comments are closed.


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