Florida students across the state are conducting a two-day protest and walkout against pretty much Ron DeSantis’s entire policy agenda. Students from at least 300 high schools, every state HBCU, and 90 percent of Florida’s overall colleges were slated to be participating, according to organizers.
The efforts began Friday, as students walked out of class, choosing instead to learn a banned history lesson about Black and LGBTQ historical figures. The students also checked their voter registration and began sending letters to school board officials and DeSantis himself, vowing to use their votes to defend student rights.
Students also held a rally at the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus, in solidarity with Floridians being attacked by an array of bills pushed by state Republicans.
Students are trying to bring attention to laws that would ban the teaching of race, gender, and intersectionality; ban “any speech or expressive activity” that “advocate[s] for diversity, equity, and inclusion”; and criminalize anyone who has an undocumented person in their home or car. They also are protesting the state’s new six-week abortion ban and permitless carry laws.
“Republicans … claim that they hate cancel culture,” Democratic Representative Angie Nixon told local affiliate WJXT. “However, they are literally the ones trying to cancel cultures. They’re trying to cancel our communities. They’re trying to cancel the ability for our students—our babies—to learn, to be taught true history, Black history, LGBTQ history, trans history, our history, American history.”
The protest follows Florida’s expansion of the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law up through high school. It also comes as groups begin to cancel Pride celebrations in the wake of Florida Republicans’ forthcoming drag ban, which is so extreme it would also ban high school kids from watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show or even the musical Hair.
“The overwhelming majority of Florida students, faculty, and community members reject these attacks on our education, livelihood, and safety,” organizers with Stand for Freedom said. “We understand that diversity is what makes our schools and nation strong … students will be rallying to unite against these infringements on our individual freedoms.”