PETALING JAYA, May 25 — Class president Zander Moricz was warned against speaking about his gay identity and activism in his high school graduation speech.
Instead of buckling down, the 18-year-old student cleverly got around the prohibition by using his curly hair as a euphemism for being gay.
Speaking at the Pine View School graduation ceremony in Florida, the United States, last Sunday, Moricz said he used to hate his "curls” and tried "desperately to straighten this part of who I am”.
"But the daily damage of trying to fix myself became too much to do.
"So, while having curly hair in Florida is difficult due to the humidity, I decided to be proud of who I was,” he said.
A clip of Moricz’s speech uploaded onto Twitter has garnered 3.4 million views so far.
florida high school class president zander moricz was told by his school that they would cut his microphone if he said “gay” in his grad speech, so he replaced gay with “having curly hair.” i am in awe pic.twitter.com/OqLbar5bwq— matt (@mattxiv) May 24, 2022
Moricz is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state of Florida and its governor Ron DeSantis over a controversial new law that has been derided as the "Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The bill, officially known as "Parental Rights in Education”, was signed into law by DeSantis in March.
According to The Advocate, the bill prohibits "classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” from kindergarten to Grade Three (usually comprising students aged 8 to 9).
Earlier this month, Moricz tweeted about his principal’s warning regarding his graduation speech, saying that the school administration had a signal to cut off his microphone and end the graduation ceremony if he mentioned his activism or the lawsuit.
I am the youngest public plaintiff in the “Don’t Say Gay” lawsuit. I am my Florida high school’s first openly-gay Class President. I am being silenced, and I need your help.— zander moricz (@zandermoricz) May 9, 2022
Moricz explained he did not want his speech to be "about this”, in an oblique reference to the lawsuit.
"It needs to be about this, for the thousands of curly haired kids who are going to be forced to speak like this for their entire lives as students,” he said in his speech.
Speaking to Good Morning America a day after his speech, Moricz said he had to be "clever” to avoid getting cut off and ruining the ceremony.
"But I shouldn't have had to be (clever) because I don't exist in a euphemism.
"I deserve to be celebrated as is."