Florida High Schooler Couldn’t Talk About Being Gay in Graduation Speech, So He Talked About His “Curly Hair”

Zander Moricz Giving Speech at High School Graduation

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given explicit instructions as he planned his graduation address to the student body. If he was going to criticize Florida’s new “Don’t Say Gay” law, the school administration would cut his mic mid-speech. Moricz, an openly gay student, had been involved in LGBTQ+ activism prior to the ceremony. He organized student walkouts at his Pine View School in Osprey, Florida, to protest the law, formally called Parental Rights in Education. It bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students from kindergarten through the third grade. Morciz is the youngest public plaintiff in Florida who is suing the state over the law.

So, how did Moricz navigate this thorny situation? As someone passionate about social justice, it was important to him that he spoke about identity. “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last,” he tweeted. To get around the school’s directive while still being true to himself, Moricz employed a clever metaphor in his speech: he talked about his curly hair as a euphemism for being gay.

“I must discuss the very public part of my identity,” Moricz told the audience. “This characteristic has probably become the first thing you think of when you think of me as a human being.” He paused. “As you know, I have curly hair.” Moricz removed his mortarboard cap and the audience began to clap. “I used to hate my curls. I spend 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 do,” he continued.

The class president went on to praise a teacher who answered his questions when he didn’t have “other curly-haired people to talk to.” In recognizing the educator, he showed the important role that teachers have in a student’s formative years.

“So, while having curly hair in the state of Florida can be difficult, due to the humidity, I decided to be proud of who I was, and started coming to school as my authentic self,” he expressed. But he lamented, “There are going to be so many kids with curly hair who need a community like Pine View and they will not have one. Instead, they’ll try to fix themselves so that they can exist in Florida’s humid climate.”

Morciz finished his speech to a standing ovation, and he called it a “great finale for four years of high school.” As he goes on to study at Harvard, he will continue advocating for the LGBTQ+ community as he studies government. “I'm going to be concentrating in government,” he explains, “so I can try and fix the same problems I'm trying to fix now.”

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given explicit instructions as he planned his graduation address to the student body.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by zander moricz (@zandermoricz)

If he was going to criticize Florida’s new “Don’t Say Gay” law, the school administration would cut his mic mid-speech.

To get around the school’s directive while still being true to himself, Moricz employed a clever metaphor in his speech: he talked about his curly hair as a euphemism for being gay. Watch the full speech below:

h/t: [Upworthy]

Related Articles:

175+ Universities Vow Not to Penalize High School Students Who Participate in Anti-Gun Violence Protests

7-Year-Old Boy Dresses as Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman for “Idol Day” at School

Student Working as Trash Collector Gets Accepted Into Harvard Law School

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]