Florida Students Lead Walkout 2 Learn Protest Against Assault on Educational Freedom

High school and college students across Florida are participating in a protest called Walkout 2 Learn, urging students to leave their classrooms at noon on Friday and demonstrate against what they claim is an assault on educational freedom. The protest is being led by Zander Moricz, a 19-year-old former Pine View School valedictorian who made national headlines last year when he defied an order not to talk about gay rights during his speech at graduation. Moricz has become an outspoken LGBTQ student activist since his graduation speech, and he founded Walkout 2 Learn to garner attention from lawmakers who have been ignoring students for too long.

The organizers of Walkout 2 Learn have published a toolkit for those looking for guidance on organizing their own demonstration or otherwise supporting the cause before, during, and after the walkout.[0] The resources include guidance on how to donate to the efforts, spread the word, and join coalitions and teams dedicated to continuing the work.[1]

The mass demonstrations, set to take place at more than 300 campuses across Florida, are organized by Walkout 2 Learn, a Florida-based network of student activists leading an opposition effort across the country in protest. The protest is unique because it is honoring, but adding to, the demonstrations of Florida students last year by providing educational opportunities to students on the ground.[0]

As part of the walkouts, students will be engaged in a brief history lesson lasting five minutes, focusing on a topic that has been prohibited. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to register for a college-level course on African American history that is available online. Additionally, the event coordinators will offer students the opportunity to register for a college-level African American studies course that will be available online. This course is being developed by professors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and various other institutions nationwide. At the end of the protest, students will be asked to sign an “Active Pledge” and make sure their voter registration is up to date.[0]

The protest is against recent moves by Florida Gov.[1] State legislators and Ron DeSantis aim to restrict the school curriculum.[1] DeSantis recently broadened the scope of the contentious Parental Rights in Education legislation (commonly referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill) that was approved in the previous year, prohibiting any mention of LGBTQ topics in kindergarten to third-grade classrooms.[0] In the newest update, educators at all levels are prohibited from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity, unless it is a mandatory topic according to state academic guidelines or part of a reproductive health or wellness lesson that a parent can opt their child out of.[0]

The youth organizers are also decrying Florida lawmakers’ introduction of bills to limit Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives at state colleges and universities, implement moderation requirements for school libraries, and restrict sexual health education.[0] The coalition of Florida students and organizations was connected by The Social Equity through Education Alliance (SEE), which seeks to empower youth political power through local community organizing.[0]

The protest has garnered support from celebrities like actor Beanie Feldstein and popular TikTok advocates and educators like Griffin Maxwell Brooks, Khalil Greene, and Jory (@AlluringSkull).[0] The Florida Democratic Party and Rep. Anna Eskamani have also come out in support of Walkout 2 Learn, signaling a partisan outcry amid this week’s actions.[1] We strongly encourage interested students to join Walkout 2 Learn’s Slack community to connect with other organizers, access training resources, and receive additional support.[0] In addition, the Instagram page of the coalition is featuring student story takeovers and plans to share vlogs titled “Why I’m Walking Out” created by the participating students.[0]

0. “Florida students ‘Walkout 2 Learn’: How to join their education revolution” AOL, 20 Apr. 2023, https://www.aol.com/news/florida-students-walkout-2-learn-201636573.html

1. “Florida students ‘Walkout 2 Learn’ in opposition to Gov. Ron DeSantis” Mashable, 20 Apr. 2023, https://mashable.com/article/walkout2learn-florida-student-protests-vs-ron-desantis

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