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A Florida senior’s graduation speech goes viral over what he couldn’t say

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
High school seniors across Florida are celebrating their graduations.
High school seniors across Florida are celebrating their graduations. [ Times (2006) ]
Published May 24

The viral story: Zander Moricz had planned to make his graduation speech about LGBTQ activism and rights.

The Sarasota County senior, who’s president of his class at Pine View School, had actively participated in the fight against Florida’s new law relating to the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation. He’s the youngest plaintiff in the lawsuit against the measure.

When his principal learned of Moricz’s plans, the pushback began. The teen was not to give a political speech, and would be cut off if he tried.

Moricz cried censorship. He also got creative. By the time his speech arrived, he found a way to make his point. And his message went national. Read more from the Herald-Tribune. Then watch this Good Morning America clip.

Hot topics

Bullying: A professional wrestler has called out the Hillsborough County school district over what he said is the bullying of his niece by another student, and said he wants to combat bullying on a wider scale, WTVT reports. • Some Levy County parents are protesting what they say is bullying of their children by their school administrators, WCJB reports. District officials have said there is no merit to the accusations.

Gender issues: A memo emerged indicating State Farm’s early plan to step into Florida’s battle over teaching about gender identity in schools, The National Desk reports. The company later walked back its ideas.

Graduation season: About 30 St. Johns County seniors returned to their elementary school to celebrate their successes, the St. Augustine Record reports.

School names: The Brevard County School Board is considering a new policy for selecting school names after dealing with two unpopular petitions to rename campuses, Florida Today reports.

Teacher pay: The United School Employees of Pasco announced that more than 90 percent of teachers and support employees who voted gave their support to a new contract that provides one-time supplemental pay of 4 percent. The added money is to go into June 17 paychecks. • The Leon County school district approved one-time bonuses up to $3,000 for teachers, WCTV reports.

Top educators: The Florida Department of Education announced Carolyn Davis of Duval County as 2023 principal of the year, and Stacia Werner of Lake County as 2023 assistant principal of the year.

Other school news

About 10 percent of students are diagnosed with ADHD and the vast majority take medications to help them succeed in school. A new study from Florida International University says the medications make no difference on how much students learn, the Miami Herald reports.

Duval County schools have seen a rise in students committed under the Baker Act. Some parents are complaining about the process, WJAX reports.

A Polk County middle school arts magnet will expand into high school grades. The plan, unanimously approved by the School Board, was in the works for years, the Ledger reports.

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From the police blotter ... A Lake County middle school student was arrested on accusations of bringing a gun to school, WKMG reports.

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