PEN America issued the following statement about the suspension of a Florida high school student for organizing a rally against the state’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill and distributing LGBTQ pride flags: 

(New York, N.Y.)–PEN America is alarmed to hear of the suspension of Jack Petocz from Flagler Palm Coast High School in FL, for organizing a rally against the state’s pending Don’t Say Gay bill and distributing LGBTQ pride flags. This appears both disproportionate and unconstitutional. As the Supreme Court has ruled, students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of expression at the schoolhouse gates. This is especially so considering this was a pre-approved and reportedly peaceful rally. This wrongful suspension must be reversed.  

This comes as Florida moves to ban discussions of LGBTQ+ identities in schools, and books about LGBTQ+ lives are being removed from Florida’s school library shelves. Petocz’s efforts to make his and other students’ voices heard should be lauded, not retaliated against.