Florida Students Hold Statewide Walkouts To Protest Ron DeSantis’s Damage

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At the close of this most recent work week, students once again launched protests against policy moves pursued by Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican allies of his in the Florida legislature. The protests involved hundreds of students at various schools around the state participating in walkouts and gatherings — and at least one evening rally in the Jacksonville area, all of which were geared towards promoting rights to free expression.

The Florida state Board of Education has now approved an expansion of DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” initiative to all grades before college, meaning that many students will now go without even the opportunity for classroom discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity without serious consequences made possible. Even in health-oriented classes where such issues may be briefly referenced, other regulatory moves have recently been under consideration in the Florida legislature that would essentially exclude transgender individuals from the formal conversation in class as though they simply don’t exist, and since, well, they do, that means students who could use guidance in figuring out their path in life just like young people who are straight and cis could go without.

The Jacksonville-area event on Friday evening featured the involvement of activism groups including Florida Rising, Take ‘Em Down Jax, Jacksonville Progressive Coalition, and Black Voters Matter, and a local state legislator — Democratic state Rep. Angie Nixon — also spoke. “You students aren’t the leaders of tomorrow. You are the leaders of today,” Nixon said, according to The Florida Times-Union. “Generation Z is the most diverse demographic in our state, and that’s what they are in fear of.” Some of those behind these protests have also set up a college-level course angled to replace the Advanced Placement (AP) course in what was termed African American Studies against which DeSantis and allies of his raised sweeping complaints about the course topics included.

The latest demonstrations follow past protests also expressing outrage over education policy and other protests recently held by students around the U.S. calling for action on gun violence, which continues to threaten Americans across age groups. Those student protests held earlier this month were seen in Texas, North Carolina, Washington, Oregon, Tennessee, New York, and elsewhere. Protests specifically in and around the Tennessee state Capitol in Nashville, which is where a recent school shooting ended with the deaths of three young children and three adults, have also continued in recent weeks.