I’ve dealt with enough students to accept to what degree the thought of admissions of any sort drives them to a state of apoplexy or even PTSD. High school for the gifted is a finishing school in all but name, a rigorous systematizing of what they think they will experience in college. Forget earning a bad grade — disciplinary infractions however minor are seen as career-killing.
Consider the guts it took for Jack Petocz to organize a walkout to protest the “Don’t Say Gay” bill awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’ signature. Administrators have duly suspended the Flagler Palm Coast High School junior for pesuading 500 students to join him.
Petocz says administrators suspended him for bringing and distributing about 200 Pride flags — purchased with his own money — to students to hold during the protest. An hour before the walkout — which had originally been scheduled for noon but was pushed forward to the morning hours — Principal Greg Schwartz pulled him aside and voiced his objections to the flags.
“He told me I wouldn’t be allowed to [distribute the flags]. He went further to question the intentions of our protest, asking if pride flags were relevant to opposition to the bill,” Petocz said. “I decided to move forward and handed the flags to other student organizers for distribution at the event.”
The clarity of expression by nonbinary lesbian Sky Smith impresses.
“When I was younger, I honestly did not see much representation in school about the LGBTQ community, and I only really started learning about it when I went on the internet,” Smith said. “So I feel like it should be taught in schools because it will help other people just like me know that it’s OK to be gay.
“When it’s not spoken about, children might see it as something that’s forbidden or not allowed or looked down upon,” Smith added.
But DeSantis has weighed in: “When you actually look at the bill and it says ‘no sexual instruction to kids pre-K through three,’ how many parents want their kids to have transgenderism or something injected into classroom instruction?” DeSantis said. “It’s basically saying for our younger students, do you really want them being taught about sex? And this is any sexual stuff. But I think clearly right now, we see a focus on transgenderism, telling kids they may be able to pick genders and all of that.”
Let me help the governor. Question One: Yes. Question Two: Yes. “Pick genders and all of that” — behold his contempt.
Work has to be done, to quote Philip Larkin.