Fla. Student Uses Curly Hair as Stand-In for 'Gay' in Grad Speech

Zander Moricz is the youngest public plaintiff in suit against the law
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2022 2:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – The senior class president at Pine View School in Florida's Sarasota County, who also happens to be the youngest public plaintiff suing over the state's so-called "Don't Say Gay" law, was told that if he referenced the law in his commencement speech, he'd be cut off. So, in order to "not say gay," Zander Moricz used his hair as a stand-in for the word. "I must discuss a very public part of my identity. This characteristic has probably become the first thing you think of when you think of me as a human being,” he said at the school's graduation ceremony Sunday, per the Hill. “As you know, I have curly hair."

"I used to hate my curls,” he said. “I spent mornings and nights embarrassed of them, trying desperately to straighten this part of who I am, but the daily damage of trying to fix myself became too much to endure.” And while he didn't want his graduation speech to be about this particular topic, he said it had to be, because he needed to speak up for the thousands of other kids living under the state's law. "There are going to be so many kids with curly hair who need a community like Pine View, and they won’t have one,” Moricz, the first openly gay class president in his school's history, said. “Instead, they’ll try to fix themselves so that they can exist in Florida’s humid climate." Following the speech, Moricz appeared on Good Morning America and in Teen Vogue. (Read more Don't Say Gay bill stories.)

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