17-year-old gay student suspended Leading protests in his high school Against the so-called Florida Don’t underestimate LGBT legislation School principals now say they are preventing him from running for president of the first grade.
Because of disciplinary offenses he received for leading protests at Flagler Palm Coast High School in March, school administrators banned him from running for elected student body position, Jack Pettsch said in a message posted to Twitter on Tuesday. The school is located approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Daytona Beach.
“I continue to be penalized for defending my identity and against the spread of hate,” Pettsch wrote. “We shouldn’t be abused both in Tallahassee and at home.”
In an email, school district spokesman Jason Wheeler said Flagler Schools have not been allowed to speak about individual students’ disciplinary records. He said the requirements for individual clubs or organizations on campus are determined by the schools or clubs themselves.
“The district has no say in defining those requirements or in how those requirements are enforced,” Wheeler said.
Petocz will be honored next week with an award at the 2022 PEN America Literary Gala for organizing students to protest Florida legislation and fight book bans. PEN America is a New York-based, non-profit organization that advocates for freedom of expression consisting of novelists, journalists, and other writers.
“Jack Pettosh is leading his generation in resisting book bans and legislative efforts to monitor how individual identities are discussed in schools,” PEN America said in a press release announcing that the Florida student will receive an award.
The Florida law, which Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law in March, bans classroom teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
More than 500 students from Flagler Palm Coast High School walked out in protest of the legislation in early March, as well as Thousands of other students about Florida. Petocz says he defied orders from school officials not to distribute the 300 rainbow pride flags he had purchased for the protest. He said he was suspended for four days after that.