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A Florida Student Who Was Forbidden From Addressing His Gay Rights Activism In His Graduation Speech Substituted ‘Curly Hair’ Instead

Republicans say they love freedom of speech, but some freedoms they like more than others. They’ll ban books, even set them on fire (prompting a creative response from The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood). Then there’s the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits the mention of LGBTQIA+ issues in early grades. Indeed, when one high schooler tasked with giving a graduation speech was told he couldn’t use the word “gay” during his address, he found a clever way to circumvent the rules.

As per The Hill, Zander Moricz, the openly gay Class President at Pine View School in Florida’s Sarasota County, opted to substitute mentions of homosexuality with another of his attributes: his curly hair.

“I used to hate my curls,” Moricz told his fellow graduates. “I spent mornings and nights embarrassed of them trying desperately to straighten this part of who I am but the daily damage of trying to fix myself became too much to endure.”

He went on, talking about his curly hair as something he used to be ashamed of because it made him different from others. He then learned to be proud of his hair, and encouraged others to do the same, especially in the face of aversity and bigotry.

He also warned the crowd of the pain that will face future classes of Florida students with the controversial law in effect, saying,, “There are going to be so many kids with curly hair who need a comfmunity like Pine View, and they won’t have one.”

Moricz also pointed out how annoyed he was that he had to speak in code. “Do you think that I wanted it to be about this?” he thundered. “It needs to be about this for the thousands of curly haired kids who are going to be forced to speak like this for their entire lives as students.” He added, “Those who we give our power to are the reason I have to stand here and talk about my hair during my graduation speech.”

Days before the ceremony, Moricz — who is the youngest plaintiff in the lawsuit against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — took to Twitter to reveal that his now-former principal warned him that if he referred to his activism or the aforementioned lawsuit during his speech, his mic would be cut off.

Luckily, everyone knew what he was referring to when he spoke about his hair. You can watch Moricz’s full speech in the video above.

(Via The Hill)