150 High-Schoolers Launch Protest Against DeSantis Despite Threats

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A group of high-schoolers organized and participated in recent protests against some of the controversial policies implemented in education by Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, reports reveal.

A protest, at a school in Broward County called Plantation High School, took place on the same day as recent walkouts at various schools in the state’s system of public colleges and universities, and at Plantation High, available info indicates that about 150 students participated.

DeSantis has drawn criticism for what is only an increasing list of his decisions in educational policy, from the push-back by his administration to a course in what was termed African American Studies to a recently released bill that, if implemented, would ban public colleges and universities from offering majors — or minors! — in fields like gender studies and from using funds from any source in support of efforts in fields including diversity, equity, and inclusion, known as DEI for short. Colleges and universities that participated in last Thursday’s walkouts included Florida State University, which is in Tallahassee, the state capital of Florida.

The walkout staged at Plantation High in conjunction with those efforts was organized by a student named Eric Franzblau, who said he was originally threatened with suspension. He originally asked for permission to put on the protest from the school principal, but according to Franzblau’s account, that school administrator initially declined to support the endeavor, expressing concerns about getting political. Days later, as Franzblau’s efforts to put on the protest expanded, he faced the suspension threat that he cited. “By that point, I had fully expected to get suspended and I was ready to,” he said. A report originating with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel indicated that Franzblau’s parents were in support of the endeavor — and elsewhere, his sister Maria helped put on the protests seen on the same day at Florida International University.

Eventually, the school offered the possibility of 15 minutes at either the beginning or end of the day’s eighth period for the walkout that Franzblau was planning at Plantation High, although local administrators inside and outside the school have nonetheless evidently emphasized they weren’t endorsing the effort and still threatened unspecified disciplinary consequences for those participating, threats that were conveyed in an email to parents.

CJ Staples, who’s with an organization called Dream Defenders that was involved in the recent demonstrations, indicated Plantation High was the only high school of which he knew that joined the walkouts. Elsewhere, planned protests were continuing at the New College of Florida, which is in the state’s public post-secondary system. DeSantis’s picks now comprise a majority on the school’s board of trustees, where they already pushed out the college president, who was replaced with a former Republican state legislator.